At least three pensioners in Edo state have died while others are presently languishing in penury and different ailments following the long wait for their arrears of pension and gratuities after retirement from active service .
The pensioners drawn from various establishments in the 18 local government councils with placards had early in the month protested along major roads and streets in Benin the state capital with a call on Governor Adams Oshiomhole to urgently come of their rescue as some of them are dying gradually but painfully.
The pensioners took their protest to the State House of Assembly and government house Benin and NUJ state secretariat in Benin to lodge their complaints.
Besides, they blocked the Airport road thereby causing hours of traffic gridlock for motorists and others. Spokespersons for the pensioners, Mr. Gabriel Osemwenkha disclosed this yesterday during a protest by hundreds of pensioners over alleged failure of the state government to settle their arrears of pensions and gratuities owed them which runs into several months and millions of Naira.
Osemwenkha stated that the victims had died due to deteriorated health conditions following paucity of funds to cater for their needs and also meet other domestic issues affecting them and their families. He also called on the Governor to immediately set up the state pensions board with a view to addressing some of the challenges confronting them in the payment of arrears and gratuity of pensioners in the state.
The aggrieved members further faulted the claim by the state Commissioner for Labour and Establishment Comrade Didi Adodo that “we are being sponsored by somebody”, saying that “this is far from the truth as we are retired responsible gentlemen and women and as things are, no one can come out to tell us, compel us to demand for our rights. We know it is our legitimate right, we are entitled to it, it is our own entitlement. Let him pay us that is what we are appealing him to do for us” Osemwenkha said, “This is the fourth time we are coming here (Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Edo state) and we are appealing to well meaning Edo people to help us prevail on the governor to pay us our pension arrears and gratuities; the composition of pensioners here are local government pensioners and state pensioners in all fields of human endeavors.”
“We are appealing that you should come to our aid, help us, we are begging you in the name of God . Help us prevail on him to pay us because most of us are highly indebted to our creditors and many are dying; in short, three persons died during the week.
We are fed up, we don’t know where to go again hence we decided to come and appeal to you to help us talk to the Comrade Governor”, he stated.