ABOUT five pensioners are said to die every week in Benue State due to the non payment of pensions by the state government. This is attributed to Elder Peter Kyado, leader of over 1000 pensioners who protested the development in Government House Makurdi, yesterday.
During the protest, two of the pensioners slumped. They were however, revived by their colleagues who fanned them.
The pensioners who carried different placards with the following inscriptions: “this is not the change we voted for,” “’we cannot feed ourselves any longer,” “’pay us our bailout for 6 months,” “our members are dying” “our children are not attending schools,” “Ortom fulfil your campaign promises.”
According to Elder Peter Kyado, the situation has become terrible for the pensioners since they suffer neglect and abandonment from government.
He said: “Pensioners in the State live in penury without their entitlements and benefits being paid for several years. No explanations are forthcoming from the State government, perhaps because we are powerless, fragile and worthless. We consider this treatment unfortunate, unconstitutional and perhaps irresponsible.
“As senior citizens, we gave our best to our state, country and humanity; we deserve respect and timely release of our retirement benefits as contained in the provision of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution (as amended) (vide sections 173 and 210) and the Benue State Pensions and Gratuities Edict 1990”, Kyado fumed.
He said the demand he and his colleagues are making include the payment of ten months pensions which include six months from November 2014- April 2014 that the bailout failed to address, settlement of outstanding gratuities through appropriate financial instruments such as bonds, treasury bills or bank outright purchase of debts.
The leader of the concerned pensioners also advocated for increase in pension arrears that have not been harmonized since 2001 as follows; 12% in 2003, 15% (2007) 38% (2005), 53%(January 2010) and 24%(minimum wage March 2010) as well as restoration of first line charge status for pensioners to ensure regular and timely payment of monthly pensions.
Addressing the aggrieved pensioners, the acting Secretary to the State Government SSG, Bem Melladu who was booed by the pensioners said the State government has set aside over N400 million from the Budget Support Fund from the Federal Government to pay the State and local government.
It could be recalled noted Governor Samuel Ortom during a radio programme had stated that the state is up to date in payment of both state and local government pensions.

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