Hunger killing us, pay our gratuities, pensioners tell Soludo
Some retirees in Anambra State have protested the nonpayment of their gratuities by the state government for four years.
They, therefore, asked Governor Chukwuma Soludo to pay the backlog of their gratuities which had accrued since 2019.
The angry retirees said it was the Administration of the former governor of the state that was owing them the gratuities, but since government is a
continuum, that Governor Soludo should clear such arrears.
One of them who spoke on condition of anonymity said,“Pay us now that we are alive. “Is it when we die that others will collect what we worked for?Our gratuities are our rights.
Another retiree, who gave her name as Chikodi Ezeogu said,” To be fair to Governor Soludo,he has been paying pension and gratuities religiously since he assumed office on March 17, 2021. He is not owing anybody in that respect within the period since he was sworn in as governor.
“In fact, he pays pensioners before even the regular workers. Since Soludo became governor, any worker that retires gets his gratuity within a month or two months. The same thing as pension. Every retiree in the state receives his or her pension from 25th of every month or earlier in some months.
“Our governor is doing well in that regard and we will continue to pray for more God’s Grace and blessings for him and his family for that.
” The gratuities we are talking about were old by former Governor Willie Obiano. He messed up the system of regular payment of such benefits he inherited from former Governor Peter Obi. Obi was not owing anybody any Kobo when he was governor and by the time he left. We didn’t know what Obiano did with our money. He was so wasteful during his reign.
“So, the gratuities we are talking about are those owed by the state from 2018, 2019,2020 to 2021 before Governor Soludo assumed office.
” But our protest is that since government is a continuum, Soludo should clear that part of the state’s debt first before anything. It’s unfair for somebody who retired in 2021, 2022 ,2023 to be paid his or her gratuity before somebody who retired say in 2018 or 2019. That’s our protest. Equity ranks according to time of creation,” Ezeogu said.
Efforts to get the state chairman of pensioners, Chief Anthony Ugozor to speak on this failed as his telephone line continued to indicate not available.
Recall that on assumption to office on March 17,2021, Soludo had said he met about N300 to N400 million in the state treasury but inherited about N109 billion debt when he assumed office.
Soludo said, “Everybody knows that the state finances are not quite robust, to put it mildly. The cash we met in various banks, if I remember correctly, I think N300 or N400 million, and then from the audited account as at (of) December, 2021, the debts (was) about N109 billion.”
This, our correspondent gathered, included arrears of pensions and gratuities.