Ortom, pensioners clash over 33-month pension arrears

Samuel Ortom

The National Union Coalition of Aggrieved Pensioners in Benue on Friday made a fresh appeal to the state government to pay them their pension arrears for 33 months.

The union, who made the appeal in a statement signed by its chairman, Akosu Orban and secretary Mac Mtsur, said that only six months out of the 33 months pension arrears owed them were inherited from the previous administration and the rest 27 months were a creation of the present administration.

“We were paid the November 2018 arrears on Sept. 9, 2020 and on Nov. 18, 2020 we were paid December 2018 pensions.

“Also, on Jan. 11, 2021 we were paid January 2019 and on May 14, 2021, we were paid February 2019.

“On July 17, 2021, we were paid March 2019 and on Sept. 10, 2021 we were paid April 2019. Since then, there has been no further payment till date,” the union said.

The pensioners wondered why pension arrears were rising despite the claim of N700 million monthly being released for pension payment by government.

“It is saddening to note that we are dying on a daily basis, as most of us are on special diet and drugs, but cannot even afford the funds to maintain ourselves.

“Some of us have become beggars, scavengers, refugees, fugitives and destitute. If this inhumanity to man meted to us persists, we may be forced or tempted to use our numerical strength and adopt a different strategy to our problem,” the union warned.

Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom, in a statement signed by his acting chief press secretary Nathaniel Ikyur, said that his government had an agreement with the leadership of the pensioners.

“Since then I have been paying the sum of N700 Million to the pensioners in the state. Out of this amount, N300 million is paid to the local government pensioners and N400 million to state pensioners every month.

“This mode of payment has been in effect in the last six months and government intends to continue with it until we are able to stabilise the payment system,” he said.

Mr Ortom further stated that his administration had domesticated the National Pension Commission’s law to serve as a permanent solution to issues of retiring civil servants.

“This means that when people retire from the public service, the challenge of waiting on government will not arise. They will be paid by their respective pension Administrators as soon as they retire,” he said.