By Umar Yusuf
YOLA—NO fewer than 500 of the 1,731 staff of Savannah Sugar Company, Numan, in Adamawa State have been confirmed dead while awaiting their benefits 17 years after their retrenchment following the privatisation of the organisation in 2002.
The Chairman of the Pensioners Association of the laid off staffers, Chief Polycap Mbande, disclosed this in Yola yesterday, at the verification of the ex-staff by the Pension Transition Administration Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, preparatory to paying the retrenched workers their entitlements.
He expressed regret that their deceased colleagues died of frustration owing to the inability of successive administrations to pay them their entitlements.
Mbande said representatives of the affected workers have made representation to the National Assembly and other pension bodies for several years, but their plea fell on deaf ears until the Buhari administration came to their rescue.
Some of the ex-workers of the company who turned up for the verification exercise expressed the optimism that they would at last be certified for their benefits after so many years of waiting.
Mrs Ronica Dickson, who said she served the company for 16 years before being laid off 17 years ago, said it has been terrible while she waited for her benefits.
Her words: “This government has tried by this intervention. We believe we will at last get what is due to us. It will be a huge relief because there have been so many things waiting to be done in our individual lives.”
Executive Secretary of PTAD, Sharon Ikeazor, said in a notice made available to newsmen in Yola, that the verification exercise is in furtherance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to improve the welfare of Nigerian pensioners, “especially those neglected by previous administrations.”