By Ozioruva Aliu

BENIN CITY – HUNDREDS of pensioners in Edo State made up those who retired from the state civil service and the local government service Wednesday took over the city centre otherwise known as Oba Ovonranmwen Square and thereby created gridlock in all adjoining roads like Sapele, Akpakpava, Airport, Siluko and Sokponba roads and adjoining streets in protest unpaid pension arrears, gratuities and non harmonization of monthly pay.

   The senior citizens armed with placards with various inscriptions took over the area as early as 7 am and turned back several vehicles forcing them to take alternative routes.

   Speaking on the development, the Public Relations Officer, Edo State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), Comrade Claudette Ehanire said “we are here today to let the world know of the sufferings of pensioners in the state.

 I am from the local government, I retired in 2010 and till now I am yet to get my gratuity, those who retired before me 2008, 2009 have not been paid their gratuity thentalk of those who are just retiring.

 I retired on Level 15 (8), I am on N73,000, my juniors that are retiring now are on over N100,000 to N200,000 this is because there is no harmonization. 

We have written several times, the governor set up some money that they should use to pay local government pension arrears, they started paying from 1982 and group us into batches but not a single batch was cleared and some they did not pay at all. For state pensioners, the government has paid some backlog for those who retired in 2012, they did screening for them and they collected their pay advice which means as they collect their yellow cards they pay them their money but after collecting their yellow card, they did not credit them. Those are alive now cannot even fight for it because they have no proof that they have been screened this is since 2017”

   Also a pensioner, Ayeye Francis said he retired in the year 2000 on Level 7 and has been on N9000 monthly but lamented that because of non harmonization, somebody who retired at Level 3 receives over N28,000 monthly.

   The Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu who personally came to address the protesters after meeting with their leaders appealed for calm and urged them to meet among themselves and come out with a workable strategy to clear the issues in form of advice to the government.

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