Scores of pensioners of locol government councils in Edo State Tuesday staged a peaceful protest for the non-payment of their pension arrears, allegedly ranging between 22 and 42 months, by the state government.
Amongst others, the pensioners who carried placards of various inscriptions, are also demanding the enrolment of newly retired pensioners, the harmonisation of pensions and regularity of payment of their monthly pensions.
Speaking to journalists at the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Benin, spokesperson of the protesters, Oloiki Michale, said the state government has turned them to orphans and that many of them have died while waiting for their entitlement.
He alleged that the bailout funds from the Federal Government running to about N11bn had been used to pay the state pensioners, while the local government pensioners were still being owed arrears.
Meanwhile, the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has assured the protesting pensioners that the state government will not deny them of all their entitlements.
Addressing the protesters, the Governor who was represented by his Deputy, Philip Shaibu, said the issue of state pensioners has already been resolved as those captured would receive their salary even before the Governor and his Deputy receive theirs.
He said since 2008, local government councils had been in charge of their internally generated revenue and so they had also been in charge of their workers’ pensions.
“Nevertheless, the State had been responsible for paying the pensions of its workers and had already done so with the bailout funds from the Federal Government, while also putting modalities in place for a sustainable method of paying the pensioners their entitlements and gratuities.
“So, we need to help local government (councils) to establish what we did at the state level so that we can pay your salary arrears and pensioners before even those that are working,” he said.