Imo State: Pensioners Cry Out Saying Okorocha Is Owing 77 Months
Pensioners in Imo State yesterday in a protest cried out that the Governor, Rochas Okorocha, is owing between 22 and 77 months arrears.
Led by the state chairman, Chief Gideon Ezeji, scores of pensioners came out and blocked Okigwe road as well as the entrance to the Government House.
They urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call the state governor Rochas Okorocha to order, saying he doesn't respect senior citizens in the state.
He behaves disrespectfully and treats the senior citizens deplorably.
Ezeji said, Okorocha derives joy in seeing elders in this state coming out from time to time to the streets to ask for their pension. What did Okorocha do with the bailout fund that President Buhari gave to him? We are protesting for the third time.
As at December 2016, the state is owing Imo pensioners between 22 months and 77 months arrears. Our gratuities have remain unpaid since 1998 till date.
Also, the government has refused to harmonize our pensions since 2000 to date. All the efforts by the union overseeing the welfare of pensioners have not yielded any fruit.
The Imo State Government in its reactions said those protesting are those pensioners and that the issue of pensions has been resolved.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Rochas Okorocha, Sam Onwuemeodo, reads:
No pensioner in the state was part of that protest. Those involved in the exercise were between the ages of 40-45. And we challenge those involved to prove us wrong by publishing their names, their autonomous communities, local government areas, years of retirement, where they retired from and their identification numbers.
The truth of the matter as it concerns the issue of pensions in the state is that more than 99 percent of the pensioners in the state have been paid arrears of their pensions up to December 2016. The remaining one percent are pensioners ommitted in the first payment exercise and they are at the moment receiving their cheques.
The government had long before now complained that the monthly pension nill of N1.4 billion had become too cumbersome for the state government to bear with 27 local governments, whereas another state with 44 local governments pay far less than that amount as pension.
Hence, the arrangement that pensioners from grade level one to six should get one hundred percent of whatever was the arrears of their respective pensions, while those on grade level seven to seventeen would have forty percent of their total arrears paid. The idea was to solve the lingering issue of pension arrears in the state once and for all.
It is therefore surprising to see few people claiming to be pensioners at the Government House on a protest over an exercise that has been successfully completed.