From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Local government pensioners in Benue state under the aegis of Coalition of Local Government Retirees in Benue State stormed the Benue Peoples House to demand the pension areas owed them up to 70 months.
The visibly angry protesters who conducted themselves in a peaceful manner lamented the continuous non payment of their allowances and pension arrears, a situation which had resulted in the avoidable deaths of some of their members who couldn’t afford medical fees.
The pensioners who carried placards with various inscriptions such as; ‘ pay us our pensions’, ‘EFCC come and rescue LG pensioners in Benue’, ‘Gov. Samuel Ortom pay LG pensioners their pension arrears, and others in unison chorused ‘we need our entitlements to pay our children school fees’.
Chairman of the Coalition, Comrade Michael Vembe while presenting their matter to the state Governor, Samuel Ortom expressed sadness over what they described as their exclusion from pension since July last year.
Vembe stated that after their interface with the Governor sometimes last year in which he promised to be releasing the sum of N200 million for the payment of pension, they only benefited for a few months after which they were no longer paid till date.
The Chairman stated further that the protesters were in the group of local government retirees since 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 who were yet to be captured.
While positing that some of the local government pensioners especially those who retired in 2016 were yet to be captured, Vembe said those who retired before then and were captured could not benefit from the N200 million monthly allocation the governor approved for pensioners because the fund was insufficient.
“I want to appeal to our governor to look into our matter. We are in groups and we have the group of local government retirees who retired since 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 as well as 2016 pensioners who are yet to be captured.”
He also appealed to the Governor to move their pay point from the Ministry of Finance to the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for better understanding and ease of payment.
Responding, Governor Ortom who spoke through his Deputy, Engr. Benson Abounu assured the pensioners that he was already looking into their matter and would ensure they were paid as soon as the Paris Club Refund hits the account of the state government.