Abia pensioners Protest at Umuahia over unpaid stipends

retirees-in-abia-statePensioners in Abia State on Thursday took their worsening plight to the streets as they blocked the ever-busy Bende Road in Umuahia, the state capital.
The senior citizens said that they were protesting the backlog of pension arrears owed them by the state gov­ernment.
The angry and hun­gry-looking retirees hung placards and used wooden benches to block one lane of the road and prevented vehi­cles from passing as they sat on the benches chanting an­ti-government slogans.
Some of them poured li­bations and made incanta­tions against the state gov­ernment while others prayed loudly to God against the government.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “We are dying of hunger; Ik­peazu pay us our pension”, and “Stop punishing pen­sioners”.
It took the intervention of the Divisional Police Of­ficer (DPO) Umuahia Cen­tral Police Station, Mr. Ezekiel Onyeke and the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ogbon­aya Nta, to persuade the sen­ior citizens to leave the high­way.
Before the arrival of the police, the obstruction by the pensioners had caused a se­rious gridlock in some major roads in the metropolis.
The Umuahia Branch Chairman of the National Union of Pensioners (NUP), Deacon Daniel Amaugo, ac­cused the state government of insensitivity to the plights of his members.
He lamented their ordeal, particularly in the face of the current economic realities in the country, saying that life had become unbearable for pensioners in the state.
Amaugo said: “This is what I and the pensioners are saying. If he wants to shoot me, let him go ahead and kill me. The pensioners are dy­ing daily because of lack of money.
“As I am here now the government owes me 12 months’ pension. Should it be so? These are people who have patients in the hospital but cannot secure their re­lease.
“We served this state for more than 35 years and now we cannot eat the fruits of our labour”.
Amaugo also said some pensioners could no long­er pay their rents following the backlog of their arrears and called on the state gov­ernment to “have mercy on them.”
“We are hungry and dy­ing on a daily basis and those of us who are tenants can no longer pay our rents because we are not paid. Our demand now is that he (Governor Okezie Ikpeazu) should pay us all pension arrears”, he said.
He said the union had ear­lier written a letter to the state government on their plights but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
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