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Pensioners in Rivers State on Wednesday stormed the state​ secretariat, demanding the payment of eight years of gratuities and six years of pension arrears​.
The pensioners, who displayed placards with various inscriptions, lamented the failure of the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike to pay gratuities, pension arrears and other entitlements since it came on board in 2015.





Coordinator of the pensioners, Lucky Ati told journalists that retired civil servants in the state were going through a lot of hardship as he described the actions of the state government as unfortunate.
Ati said: “We are here because, for over nine years, some persons have not been paid their entitlements.
“These are statutory entitlements. We are not asking for anything outside what they are supposed to pay us. For the past eight years, no person in Rivers has been paid gratuity. And you can imagine the life of a civil servant that has nothing and eight years thereafter nothing is been paid.”
He​ further condemned the failure of the Rivers​ State Government to implement the recommendations of the tripartite committee​ set up to look into the issues concerning their welfare.
“There is nothing that we have not done. There was a tripartite committee that submitted their report in April 2021 and nobody has acted on the recommendation of the report.
“They acknowledged that they have received the report, so how voluminous is the report that government cannot issue a White Paper on? The government has not done anything to implement what is in the report,” he lamented.
Also speaking, Comrade Enefaa Georgewill, Chairman, Rivers State Civil Society Organisations said members of the CSOs joined other well-meaning citizens to call on the state governor and government to pay retirees who have served the state for 35 years their pension arrears and gratuity. 
Georgewill noted, “For us, a governor that flies first-grade and class aircraft across the country because of his personal Presidential campaign, and doles out hundreds of millions of naira to citizens of other states because of politics, has no moral justification to deny our old parents their meagre pension arrears and gratuity. 
“The situation can be likened to a father who has not provided food for his children in the house, but is seen spraying money at a neighbour’s ceremony just to appear as though all is well. This is the height of irresponsibility.”
Addressing the protesters, the Director-General of Rivers State Pensions Board, Samuel Ijeoma, however, assured the protesters that the state government had approved the payment.
 “As of last week, the governor had approved all of them for payment and about 1,000 persons and I am sure that by next week, they will be paid,” Ijeoma said.
Reacting, Georgewill said: “His organisation is aware of yet another promise by the agent of government, but hope this is not a ploy by the governor to make the old pensioners keep quiet until after the PDP primaries billed to hold at the end of May.” 
He threatened that if this was the case, his organisation would mobilise all its affiliates and Rivers people to join the pensioners in protest till the money was paid.
Like George will noted, despite owing pensioners, Wike’s administration has lavished money on luxury cars for lawmakers and judges. 
For instance, in December 2017, the state government bought new Toyota Land Cruisers, SUVs worth hundreds of millions of naira for the 16 National Assembly members from the state. 
In August 2020, Wike gifted judges in the state High Court 41 new SUVs.


Source: saharareporters

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