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Pensions, bad roads: Okorocha under fire


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Theodore Tasie, Owerri

Economic activities in Imo State was temporally shut down as thousands of aged pensioners in Imo State on Wednesday defied the early morning rains and took to the streets of Owerri, protesting the non-payment of their pensions for several years by the Imo State government
Expectedly, the situation resulted in a heavy traffic jam on all major streets / roads in the metropolis.

The pensioners, who attracted the sympathy of passersby with their pitiable sight, defied all entreaties from security personnel to vacate the road, especially the one leading to the Government House, which was completely locked down.

Addressing newsmen, the State National Union of Pensioners Chairman, Chief Gideon Ezeji lamented that pensioners in the state had never experienced the level of abandonment and hardship they are facing under the Governor Rochas Okorocha administration.

He said, “Today, civil pensioners are owed 13-16 months as at May, 2016; Local Government pensioners, 14-17 months; retired primary school teachers, 23-26 months; Imo Broadcasting Corporation pensioners, 36 months and Alvan Ikoku College of Education pensioners, 68-71 months. It is indeed outrageous, how senior citizens are treated in Imo state today.”

Ezeji further disclosed that the state government had stubbornly also refused to harmonize their pensions based on the Federal Government pension award of 6% in 2003, 15% in 2007 and 33% in 2011.

He further disclosed that the Pensioners were protesting the refusal of the state government to pay retired Primary School teachers 17 months arrears.

According to him, “We are protesting to refute the claim of the Governor that he has cleared 12 years of pension arrears. We categorically state that the Governor only paid Civil Service Pensioners three months in July 2011”.

“We therefore call on the Imo State Government to pay us our entitlements. If other Southeast states like Anambra, Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi without oil revenue are paying their senior citizens, the Governor of Imo State should follow suit. We call on the Imo State Government to pay the accumulated arrears of pensions immediately”.

When contacted, the State Commissioner for Internal Resources and Pension Matters, Chief Vitalis Ajumbe, who was earlier rescued from the angry Pensioners by security operatives, when he came to address them promised that the state government would commence the payment of pensions immediately after the on-going verification exercise.

In another development, the students of Nekede and FUTO took over the street blocking all roads leading to Wetheral and Government House to protest the bad roads leading to their school. The students who were chanting war songs called on Governor Rochas Okorocha to immediately come to their rescue and tar the roads.

The students accused the state government of demonstrating a non challant attitude to their plight as he has refused to tar the road despite several calls and appeals.

Addressing the students, the commissioner for works and transport Mrs. Patience Udorji said that the state government has already sent down a contractor by name SIMAH Associates to work on the road and promised that in the next two weeks the road will be okay.


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