By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—Imo State pensioners have renewed their supplication to God, “to intervene and rescue them from penury, poor health and avoidable death”, following the non-payment of their pensions and gratuities by the state government.
A large crowd of pensioners, who gathered at Ezinihitte Mbaise local government area, lamented bitterly that untimely death was steadily depleting their ranks.
Those who led the prayer session included a Catholic cleric, Monsignor Paul Amakiri, Madam Grace Nwoko, Elder E. A. Nwachukwu, Mrs. Victoria Umunnakwe and the Ezinihitte Branch Chairman of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, Dr. Christopher Nwachukwu.
All the pensioners that spoke to Vanguard during the prayer session, lamented that their colleagues were “facing imminent death engineered by poverty, hunger and lack of money to feed and pay their medical bills”.
They passionately appealed to Governor Rochas Okorocha to not only look with pity on senior citizens, but also remember that pensioners used their youthful energies to serve the state and country.
In his closing remarks, the NUP Branch Chairman, Dr. Nwachukwu, enjoined his colleagues to continue with the prayers, so as to attract God’s sympathy.
“We have really suffered untold hardship, hunger, disease and death, following the refusal or neglect of government, to pay our entitlements regularly. We are no longer strong to carry placards”, Nwachukwu said.
Answering a question during a recent parley with journalists in Owerri, Governor Okorocha affirmed that “payment of pensions and collection of internally generated revenue”, remains his biggest problems in the state.
The governor wondered why the money needed to pay pensioners suddenly rose over and above what his predecessor in office was paying when he came on board in 2011.