By Anayo Okoli
enugu—The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Enugu State Council, yesterday honoured Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State with an outstanding award of excellence as “A pensioner-friendly Governor.”
The pensioners said that the honour done Governor Ugwuanyi was in recognition of his good works in the state and uncommon leadership qualities, which they added have enabled his administration to pay their monthly pensions promptly in spite of the nation’s economic challenges that have made it impossible for many state governments to pay workers’ salaries, “not to talk of retirees’ pensions”.
Presenting the award to the governor, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Labour and Productivity, Barr Emeka Okeke, at the 2017 Annual Pensioners’ Day Celebration, held in Enugu, the state chairman of the Union, Comrade Damian Udeani, in his address stated that “the retired civil servants in Enugu State are lucky to have a Governor who cares.”
Comrade Udeani said that Gov. Ugwuanyi “has been paying pensions regularly to this category of pensioners”, adding: “Recently, retired primary school teachers were paid four months arrears of pension and also some arrears of gratuities. You can imagine the number of sick pensioners the payment of these arrears has saved from imminent death. For this, we say kudos to our governor .“
The pensioners appreciated the governor for approving the verification of state pensioners who failed to participate in the last verification exercise organized by the state government to audit the strength of the retirees, and urged those involved to “make sure they do not miss the verification this time” that will last for two months.
“As we go into the year 2018, I enjoin our pensioners to be strong in prayers for ourselves and for those in authority. I thank His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for accepting our award of excellence”, the chairman said.
Responding on behalf of the governor, Barr Okeke thanked the pensioners for the award and assured them of the state government’s commitment to improving their welfare.
The Labour Commissioner informed the pensioners that the state government has set up a committee headed by the Head of Service to look into the outstanding pension arrears owed by the past administrations to retirees in some government parastatals, such as the Enugu State Water Corporation and Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) with a view to offsetting the said arrears.