By Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA—ABIA State pensioners have lamented what they called neglect and lack of concern by the Abia State Government over the pitiable plight of their members, saying that many of them are facing serious health challenges.
In fact, the pensioners lamented that their members are dying on daily basis as they could not afford to procure the drugs that sustain them.
The senior citizens also expressed disappointment that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had not kept his promise to offset the arrears being owed them by the government and regretted that the back log of unpaid pensions have continued to increase.
Rising from an enlarged meeting of the members, the pensioners under the umbrella of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, said that in addition to old arrears, the Ikpeazu administration owes them 14 months arrears “from September 2017 to October 2018”.
A communique signed by the state chairman, Comrade Chukwuma Udensi and the Secretary, Elder O. C. Arungwa, said: “It is also regrettable that the Abia State University Teaching Hospital Pensioners have no pensions since November 2014.
“The council views as unfortunate, the fact that the mass meeting of the State Governor, Victor Okezie Ikpeazu with Abia pensioners on 25th September, 2017, produced little or no result at all because instead of being reduced, the arrears of pensions has doubled since the meeting. The meeting was at the instance of the governor and was expected to proffer sustainable solutions to the pension payment problem of the state.
“The council regrets that since May 28, 2018 when the State Governor met with the State Executive Committee of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Abia State, during which the governor personally promised a gradual and eventual clearance of the pension arrears, it is sad to note that he has failed this promise.
“The governor pledged without any coercion or negotiation in that meeting that he would be paying 3 months of pension arrears in every two months. What had happened since then is neither here nor there as pensioners are yet to have a feel of the governor’s promise.
“The council expressed profound surprise at this act of unusual neglect and lack of concern exhibited by the governor and the Abia State government which he leads, over the sorry plight of pensioners, many of whom are facing serious health challenges, others are bed-ridden, while many others have passed on as a result of frustration, hunger and lack of medical care.”
The pensioners therefore urged traditional rulers, religious leaders and other well meaning prominent persons in the state “to intervene and ask the governor to do the needful to stop the gradual extermination of Abia State senior citizens.”
The pensioners also attacked members of the State House of Assembly who approve the budget of the State and “at the end of the year declare that the budget has been fully implemented while pensions budget in that year were not paid”, just they expressed “immense disappointment and lack of confidence in the state commissioners of Finance and Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for their failure to advise the Governor appropriately on the proper administration of pensions in the State”.