Local Government pensioners in Akwa Ibom State yesterday stormed the Government House in Uyo, the state capital, to protest the non-payment of their pension arrears and gratuities.The angry pensioners arrived the Wellington Bassey entrance of the Government House as early as 8am with placards bearing different inscriptions. Some of the protesters chanted solidarity songs while calling on the state government to pay them their pension arrears.
Addressing newsmen in Uyo, the State Chairman Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Mr Effanga Ettah, appealed to the Governor Udom Emmanuel to approve the release of payment of pensioners’ gratuity since 2012. Ettah lamented that some pensioners in the 31 local government areas of the state have not received their gratuity, adding that this has caused untold hardship to these elderly citizens.
He added that pensioners in the local government had also not received their monthly pension since March this year. According to him, the situation had thrown a lot of pensioners into untimely death causing their families hardship as they could no longer provide for their families.
aksu360 gathered that the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Victor Attai, had responded that allocation from Federation Account has not been enough to pay workers salaries and pensioners monthly entitlements. Attai said that government was aware of the plight of pensioners in the state especially those in the local government but that the problem was mainly due to the financial difficulties facing state government at the moment. He appealed to pensioners to bear with government as efforts were on top gear to alleviate their plight.
In his reaction and in a statement made available to aksu360, Ekerete Udoh, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor states that 'the payment of pensions and gratuities to local government workers and Teachers is sorely the responsibility of local government councils, not the State Government. He revealed that on Friday 08/07/2016, Governor Emmanuel again had intervened by making funds available to pay for one month of pensions to the local government workers'.
He described the protest that was earlier held as ‘obviously sponsored set of local government workers’. He maintained that Governor Udom Emmanuel will not be detracted from the task of providing superior performance and bringing home the beacon to the people of the state, for which he was massively elected to do, on April 11, 2015.