In what will come across as a rather startling development, hundreds of retirees on Friday blocked the Cross River State Governor’s office to demand the payment of their pension and gratuities.
Some of them carried placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Governor Ayade pay our pension and gratuities’, ‘Pensioners are dying due to non-payment of pension and gratuities’, ‘Ayade harmonise pension’, among others.
The retirees said they were facing untold hardship due to their inability to collect their entitlements and called on Governor Ben Ayade to do the needful by paying them.
Some of them said they had not been paid gratuity since 2013 while others said they were being owed from 2014.
Speaking on behalf of the retirees, the Calabar branch Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Dr. Eyo Otu Eyo, said, “As we are standing here, nobody earns up to N30,000 pension and yet such people have not been paid. There are thousands that are bedridden. I can take you to pensioners at home who are bedridden. Yet this so-called gratuity has not been paid.
“Some have died a preventable death. We are tired of this suffering. We have been sending letters to the governor through the Nigeria Labour Congress and yet nothing has happened. We had to come on our own. We don’t need any sponsors. We just decided to come and tell the governor that we are suffering. As I am talking to you, do you know how many people (retirees) will die tomorrow?”
He said pension has also not been paid for some months.
Addressing the retirees on behalf of the state governor, the Permanent Secretary Special Services, Governor’s office, Dr Alfred Mboto said, “I came and saw you, my mothers and my fathers. Truly speaking, I know that you had wanted to see the Governor directly, but right now as we speak, he is in a meeting at the House of Assembly.
“Truly, I have seen your plight, and I can say that nobody will see this and not understand that you are in pain. But I am assuring you that we will do everything possible to address your demands.
“The truth is that government is doing everything possible to make sure that the pension and gratuities are paid.”
Civil servants in the state have been on strike since October 12 over non-payment of gratuities, pension, implementation of promotion, full payment of minimum wage, among other demands.