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Rivers Retirees Threaten To Boycott Polls …Over Non-Payment Of Pensions, Gratuities Collins Barasimeye

Retirees of the Rivers State Government under the Contributory Pension Scheme from 2015 till date have threatened to boycott the forthcoming elections if government failed to pay their pensions and gratuity.

The retirees who stormed the State Secretariat in their numbers to demonstrate over their plight said they had written letters to the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, the Chief of Staff, Chief Emeka Nwoke, the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikunaiyi Ibani-Awaji and members of the assembly, but all efforts to get payment have been futile.

The coordinator of the Retirees forum, Mr Lucky Ati in an interview said the processes of getting the basic requirement for payment like the Pension I.D. Card, Pension Account and Letter of Authority at the Ministry of Establishment had been very slow as most people that retired from 2015 and 2016 have not gotten their letters of Authority and cannot go for biometric capture.

Ati hinted that they had almost exhausted their patience and called on the authorities to repeal the law hindering their payment, call them for the biometric and pay them their entitlements, having served the state government for dutifully for many decades.

He opined that they have talked to God to touch the hearts of the people concerned, but will continue to be on the street every Wednesday if they did not hear from government, stressing that, “it is to tell the people that we are still suffering, though with God all things are possible.”

Also speaking, an Executive member of the Contributory Pension Scheme Retirees, Mr. Sammy Eke lamented the ordeal retirees in the state were passing through, saying that it is unfortunate that even when the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Emeka Nwoke during one of the demonstrations said Government was doing something, but nothing tangible has happened. They appealed to Governor Nyesom Wike to do the needful as the elections are fast approaching.

He said “let the retirees be captured by the ICT Department for them to get their monthly pension allowances while waiting for the gratuity which is their entitlement, pointing out that the Governor should give an Executive Order to the House of Assembly to abrogate the law because with their number, their votes mean a lot, as they are ready to be on the street until the elections are over.

Also speaking, Chief Beneth Ayawo of Senior Secondary School Board, Mr. Israel Erienaikachep, a Nurse who retired at Okrika General Hospital and Mrs Darling T. Erekosima of Ministry of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs said life had not been easy since their retirement from service as they were finding it difficult to feed, settle house rents and school fees, medical attention and other challenges.  They also appealed to the authorities to see to their plight as senior citizens and cushion their sufferings by paying them their pension and gratuities.

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