Judex Okoro, Calabar
Local government workers pensioners in Cross River State have threatened to occupy the state governor’s office if their pension arrears were not paid within one month.
Other offices they threatened to occupy included that of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, the Ministry of Finance, the Local Government Service Commission and Local Government Pension Board, among others.
The pensioners, numbering about 5,000, claimed that the state government owed them a whopping N9 billion as pension and gratuity arrears.
Chairman of the state’s Local Government Pensioners, Comrade Bassey Bassey Okosin, who made this known while briefing newsmen in their plight, said they have decided to the authorities one month to enable them offset the arrears amicably.
Okosin said: “As at today, N9b is outstanding in respect of arrears of pension and gratuity covering the period of 2007 and 2018 in favour of Local Government Pensioners. They have been denied this entitlement on account of lack of funds.
“The pension arrears dates back to 2007 and we has expected the governor to use the bailout and Paris Club funds. The federal government gave the money for payment of the arrears and it would have reduced the pain of pensioners.”
Lamenting that most of them who retired might die without getting their dues, the chairman said: “Having exhausted all known means of reaching out to all the relevant arms of government without result, we have taken a decision to park our loads to live in the governor’s office, and all the offices that are responsible for the payment of these entitlements until further notice.
“This is not a threat but what is likely going to happen in the next one month. All our members have mobilize themselves from the eighteen local government areas of the state for this exercise,” he emphasized.
He decried a situation where elderly people are deprived of their pension for a period of six months as a result of verification exercise, regretting that even after the exercise was completed, about six hundred genuine names have not been captured in the payroll.
He solicited for marginal increase in subvention to be accommodate retirees which, he said, grow monthly.