By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
Relief may soon come the way of retired primary school teachers in Akwa Ibom state following the final approval by the state government to commence payment of their gratuities in instalments.
The Committee for the Verification of Retired Primary School Teachers and their Next of Kin, set up to verify the actual numbers of primary teachers or their next of kin, had last Thursday submitted its report to Governor Udom Emmanuel through the state’s head of service, Mr Effiong Essien.
A member of the committee and state secretary of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Chief Cosmos Essien, said the number of retired primary teachers between 2009 and 2018 where the payment of gratuities stopped and recommenced, respectively, was about 400.
Essien disclosed that those who had died within the period for their next of kin to inherit their gratuities were about 300; bringing the total to about 700, however, declined to mention the total amount needed to defray the total gratuities
“It’s a huge amount. But it is not beyond what is called the government to handle.
What we know is that if the government would honour the agreement to release the N200m monthly earmarked for the payment, then before long, the issue of retired primary school gratuities will be a thing of the past.”, Essien said.
The NUP scribe suggested that to prevent a recurrence of retirees’ debt, a state pension commission should be set by the government, as either a political or administrative body to look into the welfare of pensioners.
He stressed, “Apart from the primary school teachers, we also have retired civil servants; we also have retired local government workers as well as those who retired from. the parastatals like the tertiary institutions.
“If we have a commission in place headed by either a politician or a senior civil servant of the rank of a permanent secretary, it would properly guide government and make the issue of pay of persons and gratuities easier and faster.”