(Alexander Okere) Benin – Retired civil servants, under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, on Monday staged a protest in Benin, the Edo State capital, to protest against the non-payment of their pension arrears by the state government.
The aggrieved protesters, many of whom were dressed in black attires, carried placards with different inscriptions.
The retirees decried what they described as a “clandestine delay” in the payment of their entitlements spanning between seven and 42 months.
Some of them, who spoke when they were received by the state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Rowland Osakue, at the NUJ Press Centre, lamented that they had been evicted from their apartments due to their inability to pay their rents.
One of them, Ihama Friday, said, “Some of us are tenants; we have been ejected. We are living in the apartments of friends. A man at 60 still squatting with a friend is a terrible situation.”
Another pensioner, who identified herself only as Osa-Aighobarueghia, lamented that she had accumulated huge debts since she retired as a head teacher in 2014.
She said, “My pain is that the governor has not paid me my arrears. He owes me almost 30 months arrears and he only started paying in April this year.
“What happens to the previous ones? We have borrowed money to keep our families alive. It is disappointing.”
The state Chairman of NUP, Pullen Noruwa, said members of the union had been made to live on a meager payment of N2,000 monthly, due to the non-harmonisation of their pensions.
While calling on the government to reopen the state’s pension board, he urged the state governor to clear their outstanding pensions as a “parting gift”.
Noruwa said, “We demand the reopening of the pension board so that all of us can get our papers processed. We have arrears of those who were newly placed on the payroll spanning from 10 to 42 months; they are not on pension or salary.
“The pensions of those who retired in 2006 have yet to be harmonised. We beg that (Adams) Oshiomhole should harmonise our pension. We plead with his government to pay us all our entitlements before he lives office. Pensioners are not happy.”