Abia State Pensioners took their protest against months of unpaid pension arrears to the State House of Assembly, grieving that the State government has neglected and dehumanized them.
The pensioners therefore called on lawmakers to step into the issue, grieving that some of them are dying as they could not pay for their medications.
Two weeks ago, the pensioners moved their protest to the Government House, Umuahia.
The Principal Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Emma Nwabuko, assured the pensioners that there is ongoing efforts to pay them.
The pensioners, dressed in black, some of who looked sick, began their protest from the Bande School road, trekked over four kilometers to the State House of Assembly where the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chikwendu Kalu addressed them.
Recounting their tribulation to the members of the House, Chief Emmanuel Okparanta, wailed that the State government has left them abandoned and devasted as they have only received a month pension this year.
Okparanta claimed that, retirees in the State last received gratuity 18 years ago, which has also made things unbearable for them.
They alleged that the Abia State Pensioners have been neglected by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who is also acting unconcerned.
They accused the governor of making no serious effort to tackle the issue in spite the guarantees he made during a meeting on September 25, 2017.
Okparanta claimed: “We met the Governor at Okpara auditorium and he promised to bridge the gap between us and workers but since then he has done nothing, and that one of them who took part in their November 15 protest died from stress.”
Lot of pensioners can no longer cope with life due to their inability to pay for their medications, Okparanta maintained.
He also lamented that some retirees are still paid as low as N500, N1000 and N2500 as pension.
Okparanta urged the lawmakers, “Please tell the Governor to pay us at least for six months because there is money in the state.
Anybody saying there is no money in Abia State now should come let us tell him that we know how money comes into the state and its movements.”
The Speaker, in his response, praised the pensioners for their peaceful protest, and that he shared their grief, assuring them that their ordeal, a copy of which has been given to him, would be treated with urgency.
Hon. Kalu belittled a scenario where pensioners are paid N500 and pledged that the lawmakers will take steps to rectify the matter.
“It is ridiculous to pay somebody N500 as pension. Anybody who is disregarding old age, what he is saying is that he wouldn’t be old”, Hon. Kalu said.