From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Over 2000 Local Government pensioners, on Tuesday, slept at the gate of the Benue State Government House, in Makurdi, to protest nonpayment of their pension to the tune of N1.1 billion.
Chairman, Coalition of Local Government Pensioners, Comrade Mike Vembe, who led the protest to Government House, told newsmen on Wednesday, that the protest became necessary after the Ministry of Finance stopped giving money to Local Government Pensions Board.
“We slept at the gate of the Government House since yesterday to press home our demands for the payment of our pension. The Finance Ministry stopped giving money to Local Government Pensions Board and this is causing our hardship.”
The pensioners bore placards with various inscription including, “Retirement is not a crime, pay all Retirees 2015 inclusive”, “Our governor hear our prayers please”, “our a children are suffering in schools”, “We are sick due to poverty and age,” continued to chant solidarity songs throughout the night.
Vembe who disclosed that one of their members, Gabriel Nomsha from Gwer West Local Government Area committed suicide last week as a result of poverty and frustration explained that after the deceased had been screened, he came with the hope of collecting his pension but was disappointed when he wasn’t paid.
“The man died of frustration because he had high hopes that he would get his pension after scaling through the screening process. When that didn’t happen, he got frustrated and went and hung himself last week.”
Efforts to prevail on the pensioners to leave failed until the Governor who was on his way to Abuja came and addressed them.
After listening to their complaints, Governor Samuel Ortom who sympathised with them maintained that their welfare was of utmost importance to his government and promised to do everything possible to clear their pension arrears.
Ortom immediately directed his Special Adviser on Local Government on Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Titus Zam to include one of their leaders on the Local Government Joint Allocation Committee.