Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
The immediate past Public Complaint Commissioner (PCC) in charge of Imo State, Ambrose Ugboaja, has disclosed that over 800 cases of pension and gratuity matters between 2012 to 2017 were left unresolved till his exit from the office on April, 7 2018.
According to the Ombudsman, between 2012 to 2017, the Commission had a total of 3,115 cases, both active and proactive, adding that 2,225 of the cases were resolved with pension and gratuity cases pending.
“We had 3,115 in 2012 and 2017, but of all of them 2,225 were resolved while some are still pending, those pending are those relating to pension and gratuity matters, pending not because we could not reach the climax, but because the complainants were not being paid.
Ugboaja, who described most of the pension cases he had handled as touchy and emotional, however noted that the most emotional among them is the agreement between the workers and the state government to forfeit 30 percent of their salaries.
“All pension matters are touchy because it concerns all the old men and women who used their youthful age to work for the government, now their matter is being treated as a privilege which ordinarily is their right, their entitlement,” the former Commissioner said.
“They are supposed to collect it when they are still living because this is the money they saved when they were still active.”
He continued that “the worst case I have ever received is when a pensioner in Imo State was forced to sign an undertaking to receive about 70 percent, that is the most touchy policy we considered an aberration. We engaged the government then and made our recommendations,” Ugboaja said.
Speaking on the contributions of the Commission, Ugboaja said “sincerely speaking, I am a major player. I must tell you that we have not done well because of the numerous challenges and perception of the Commission, most people still do not understand the principles of the Commission, even most of its Commissioners. They think it is like just any other Commission.
“I found it easy because i am a legal practitioner. Take for instance, a surveyor who has spent the better part of his career in the bush and you bring him to head the Commission, what magic do you expect him to perform? So this is one of the greatest challenges in the Commission,” Ugboaja observed.