May 16, 2017

Imo pensioners reject plot to slash pension by 50%

By Chidi Nkwopara

OWERRI — Imo State Council of Nigerian Union of Pensioners, NUP, rose from an emergency meeting, weekend, in Owerri, unanimously rejecting the state government’s move to slash the monthly stipends of retirees by 50 percent.

The pensioners hinged their decision on what they termed “another vexatious form designed and printed by the state government, which pensioners are compelled to sign.”

According to the aggrieved senior citizens, “the state government designed a form, directing pensioners to sign an undertaking that only 50 per cent monthly pension would be paid them” by the administration.

Moving the motion earlier, state Secretary of Imo State Association of Retired Permanent Secretaries, Chief Fabian Agba, described government’s treatment of retirees as “a gross exhibition of lawlessness, especially as pension matters, salaries and wages are in the exclusive list of the Nigerian Constitution as amended.”

It was his candid view that it was wrong for the governor and his officials to be tinkering with pension matters, and appealed to Governor Rochas Okorocha to “consult wisely before taking a position on such matters.”

Speaking also, Mr. Boniface Echefu from Isiala Mbano, pleaded with the council to guide and guard its members against signing the obnoxious document.

“It is unlawful for government to tamper with the amended Pension Act, through the back door, by slashing what is due to pensioners in the state. It is sad that our colleagues elsewhere get handsome packages,” Echefu said.

Supporting the motion, Mr. Gabriel Madu from Mbaitoli local council area, described the latest form as “obnoxious and detrimental to the welfare of pensioners and workers on the payroll of the state government.”

He urged the council to not only condemn the act, but to also educate their members on the dangers inherent in endorsing the document.

Part of the resolution read: “The Imo NUP Council rejects in its entirety, the offer of 50 percent monthly pension by Imo State Government. “We also reject government’s claim that it has cleared all arrears of pension fully and has no outstanding liability to pensioners.”

Addressing the senior citizens earlier, the State NUP chairman, Chief Gideon Ezeji, said it was regrettable that government came with another obnoxious measure, to further expose retirees to more hardship.

Ezeji recalled with grief that the latest move was coming on the heels of a similar directive last December that pensioners should forfeit 60 percent of their pension to the state government.