Pensioners in Taraba State yesterday took to the streets of Jalingo to protest nonpayment of their pensions and gratuities by the state government.
Drawn from the 16 local government areas of the state, the pensioners threatened to boycott the 2023 general elections if their over eight years’ entitlements running to over N30 billion is not fully paid.
Numbering over a hundred, the pensioners stormed the Government House carrying placards with different inscriptions such as ‘We are tired of lies and fake promises’ and ‘Ishaku pay us our money’ from where they proceeded to the State House of Assembly.
At the Government House, they were denied entry by the security operatives on duty leading to pandemonium as the protesters rained invective on the government and its officials.
The State Chairman and Secretary of the Pensioners Union were later allowed entry to submit their letter to the governor at the secret registry of the Government House due to the absence of top government functionaries to attend to them.
From the Government House, they proceeded to the State Assembly where they also presented a letter addressed to the Speaker of the House though the Speaker and other members were unavailable to address them.
Chairman of the State Chapter of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Comrade Kefas Katan who led the protest, told journalists that they staged the protest due to the government’s insensitivity to their plight.
According to him, “Since Governor Ishaku has refused to pay us our entitlements, we have resolved to appeal to God to ensure that the governor and those advising him not to pay us our entitlements should see hell in their future endeavours.”
Listing their demands from the government, Katan stated “Our consequential adjustment arising from the implementation of minimum wage for civil servants in 2019 and our 33 per cent pension increase approved since 2014 and the pension and gratuity are still not paid.
“We also want the immediate enrolment of over 1000 local government retirees for pension, prompt payment of gratuity and pension as well as implementation of the 33 per cent pension increase including implementation of consequential adjustment in pension and others for them.”
The chairman lamented that pensioners in the state are dying in silence as many of them have been thrown out of their rented apartments or have their children withdrawn from schools while several others have died due to their inability to procure medications.
He however stressed that they would not be intimidated or cowed and would continue to demand for their rights until it is given to them saying all pensioners across the state would be mobilise to occupy the Government House, House of Assembly and other strategic areas if government fails to attend to them, adding that they would remain there until their entitlements are fully paid.