By Christopher Tom, Uyo
The Chairman, Akwa Ibom state council of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, (NUP) Obong Ekpenyong Ekpo has appealed to the state government to harmonize payment of pensions in the state in order to alleviate the problems encountered by pensioners earning as low as between N600 and N1,000 pension per month.
In his address, during a ceremony to mark 2017 National Pensioners Day and Grand Reception for Governor Udom Emmanuel, held at Ibom Hall Ground, IBB Avenue , Uyo , the state capital, Obong Ekpo lamented the accumulated arrears of gratuities meant for payment of retired Primary school teachers and local government pensioners in the state and called on governor Emmanuel to urgently come to their rescue.
Ekpo said, “It is unimaginable for a retiree to get N600 monthly as pension. The state government should look into living conditions of the elderly who have served the state meritoriously for 35 mandatory years.”
While thanking the governor for his dynamism and perfect financial management style he also used this forum to appeal to him to give greater attention to senior citizens of the state by addressing their pensions and gratuity needs.
He suggested the payment of pension arrears to civil service pensioners through implementation of straight transfer from salary to pension payroll once any civil servant retires to avoid the issues of pension arrears.
He called on the state government to establish Akwa Ibom Pension Commission which he said will comprise various departments that will handle civil servants and Local government pensioners.
Adding that retired Primary School Teachers pensioners and those who retired from government parastatals should be handled by a different department to lessen the burden of pensions administration in the state.
A pensioner and the village Head of Nkwot Nung Imo, village in Ikono Local Government Area of the state, Chief Okon Inyang, said, he retired as a Primary Schools head master in 1997.
Chief Inyang who spoke with our correspondent at the venue said, “The state government is owing some people gratuity and pensions from 1991 to date. The government is owing me five years pension.
Governor Akpabio left behind so much unpaid pensions and gratuities but Governor has paid us up to October this year the arrears that Akpabio left behind is the problem “
Governor Udom Emmanuel, who was represented at the event by the head of civil service, Mrs Ekereobong Akpan said on assumption of office at the state government he paid 10-year pension arrears to pensioners.