By Nwabueze Okonkwo
Pensioners in Anambra State have expressed happiness with the plans by Governor Chukwuma Soludo administration to defray the gratuity arrears owed them since the regime of former Chinwoke Mbadinuju.
They are also excited that the existing cordial relationship between them and the state government would continue unhindered especially if Governor Soludo would redouble his efforts at liquidating the arrears owed them by his predecessor, former Governor Willie Obiano’s administration.
Chairman of the state chapter of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, Anthony Ugozor, who spoke in Awka, said Soludo had been paying the pensioners their monthly pensions as at when due since he assumed office in March.
Ugozor who spoke against the backdrop of arrears of pensions and gratuities owed them since former Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju administration, which he said Governor Soludo has referred to the state House of Assembly.
According to Ugozor, “The administration of Obiano owed us arrears and left, but we met the current governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, concerning the problems of all the pensioners in the state, and the matter is now before the House of Assembly.
“We have met the lawmakers twice and they have also invited the ministry concerned Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, but officials of the ministry have refused to honour the invitation.
“Since they have failed to come on two occasions they were invited, the House committee has written again, warning that if they fail to come at the next meeting, it will use every power available to it to address the issue”.
On the issue of gratuities, he said Governor Soludo has decided to keep money aside every month and when it reaches N300million, he will divide and share it among pensioners who are owed. He will use N150million to pay the state pensioners and the other N150million for the local government pensioners. He has started doing it. It is a way of gradually liquidating the arrears and it is very impressive.
“We petitioned the Assembly and they invited us and we gave them some documents. It is the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, which supervises the Joint Action Committee, JAC that has been invited. Although it is not the problem of the present officers at the ministry, since the government is a continuum, they have to be invited. The most important thing is for the money to be paid to us”.