Rivers govt owes pensioners N60 billion — Union
Pensioners in Rivers State have accused the state of government of refusing to pay pension and gratuity to retired civil servants in the state.
The Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, Rivers State Council, said the money owed pensioners by the state government since 1999 is up to N60 billion, including “the increase in the pension rates approved by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission”.
The pension union, in a communique issued after its State Executive Council meeting on January 18, quoted the state Governor, Nyesom Wike, to have said in December, last year that the state government was up to date in its payment of pensions to retired civil servants in the state.
Mr. Wike, the union claimed, said the state government was, therefore, going to use the Paris Club refund only for project execution in the state.
“This statement is not true,” the pensioners said in the communique signed by the State Chairman of the union, Edward Festus-Abibo, and the State Secretary, Joseph Agbo.
“The union categorically state that the State Government is owing pensioners of the state. The union is very much shocked by the governor’s statement.
“Respect, they say, is reciprocal. No matter the level one has attained in life, honour should be given to whom honour is due. At least, the senior citizens in this state should be paid their entitlements and be respected.
“Imagine where one put the useful part of his life in the service of the state and at the end of his career, his pension is not paid for years after leaving the service. It is injustice and inhuman,” the union said.
The union said that the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation had, through a circular, issued in 2002, transferred the responsibilities of payment of retired primary school teachers’ pension to the state governments.
“All state governments have implemented this circular, except Rivers State Government,” the union said.
“Some of these primary school teachers had died prematurely because of non-payment of their entitlements. Some could no longer feed their families.
“It is on record that some teachers taught some of the present-day political leaders that meted out untold hardship to their aged parents. It is a pity,” the union said.
“When we put all the pension debts owed by the state government from the seven sectors, the debt profile will be up to N60 billion. From 1999 to date, no pension increase has been granted by the state government, neither has the state government implemented any of the pension increases granted by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Abuja.”