Abia set to end pensioners’ plight

Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 5 August 2015 | 3,845 times

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The Abia State Government is planning a modality for a state-wide verification of pensioners in its payroll with a view to ending the problem of irregular payments being experienced by the senior citizens in the state.

Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Eme Okoro, made this known during a tripartite meeting involving the office of the SSG, the State’s Head of Service, Dr. Vivian Uma, and officials of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Abia State Chapter, at the office of the SSG in Umuahia.

According to a statement by the Public Relations Officer in the office of the Head of Service (HoS), Mrs Adaeze Ralph Igbokwe, the SSG said the measure would bring sanity to payment of pensions to the pensioners, thereby reducing their current plight.

Pensioners in the state have been experiencing difficult times due to non-payment of the entitlements as at and when due. Some pensioners told News Express that they were being owed about six months arrears of pensions while others were being owed more than that.

But the SSG, according to Mrs Igbokwe, blamed the untold hardship being experienced by the pensioners on the nefarious activities of fraudsters who have inflated the number of pensioners in the state with ghost pensioners, thereby leaving a bloated monthly pension bill for government to settle in the face of dwindling revenue.

Dr. Okoro vowed that in sanitising the system, government would not rest until the cabals behind faceless pensioners being paid huge sums of money were apprehended and made to face the full weight of the law.

In his contribution, the HoS, was also of the view that if a verification exercise of pensioners in the state was conducted, it would help to ascertain the actual number of pensioners in the state.

Dr. Uma stressed the need to pay pensioners in the state simultaneously, expressing hope that the plight of the pensioners would soon be addressed, even as he enjoined the senior citizens to have faith in the administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. He said the governor was poised to pay the arrears owed pensioners in the state.

In his speech, the chairman, Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Abia State Chapter, Comrade Chukwuma Udensi, assured that the union was ready to assist government in measures it would adopt to check the ghost pensioners syndrome in the state.

Udensi also commended government for taking steps to address the lopsidedness in payment of pensions in the state and appealed to government to also address the “unhealthy system of paying the same amount of check-off dues to the union” every year.

Source: News Express

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