Pensioners in Nasarawa State who have been enduring unpaid benefits as well as piecemeal payment system by the government, have decided to not only bark, but also bite as their endurance appeared to have reached the limit.
To bite, the senior citizens few days ago, trooped into the streets of Lafia, the state capital and marched from the union’s office along Lafia-Makurdi road, through the major streets to the Government House, to express their grievances to the governor.
Mostly women, the aggrieved pensioners who came out in large numbers and guided by the personnel of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps, displayed placards with various inscriptions such as: “We need not to die before our pensions are paid”, “Many pensioners are in the hospital due to percentage payment”, “Please pay us our entitlement and save our lives”.
Spokesman of the protesters, Alhaji Usman Ibrahim who described their conditions as deplorable, said the increasing number of deaths and sudden illnesses among members in the last two months, was worrisome.
According to him:
“Two hundred pensioners have died as a result of poverty, some of them are lying critically ill in the hospital unable to afford medications. Our members now depend on alms as beggers; they are supposed to have what is due to them to help themselves. Some of the pensioners, like Ismail Amos and Alhaji Rabi Immam are down with ill health begging for assistance from the government to cater for them.”
“I served for 25 years and after my retirement, I can’t get my benefit. I am not happy; our gratuity and pension should be paid,“ one of the pensioners, Ismail Ibrahim declared.
Also speaking, Mrs Labara Sabo, claimed to have been paid only N100,000 out of her N8,000,000 gratuity.
The Director-General of the Nasarawa State Pension Commission, Alhaji Sanihu, who received the protesters appealed for understanding with the state government.
“What the state has now is not enough to pay the pensioners their full pension.”
It was gathered that over 1000 of them, at the time of this report, were being paid N100,000 each to lessen their hardship.