Retired primary school teachers and local government workers in Delta State on Tuesday stormed the streets of Asaba, the state capital in protest over unpaid accrued benefits of N48,369,331,624.00 as at December, 2019.
While N40,231,422,556.00 is for primary school retirees, the balance of N8,137,909,068 is for retired local government workers, according to the protesters numbering over one thousand.
Clad and black clothes and bearing placards of various inscriptions, the protesting senior citizens marched through the streets demanding the payment of their entitlements.
Inscriptions on some of the placards were “Pay Us Our Gratuity From 2014 to date”, “Our Pension Mata, No Retreat, No Surrender”, ” EFCC Probe All PFA’s”, “Let Us Reap the Fruit Of Our 35 years Labour”, “Okowa, Retirees Deserve A Better Life, Do Something,” and “Gov. Okowa, Our Gratuity & Pension Is Our Right.”
Spokesperson for the protesters, Helen Egie said retirees which numbered over 5,000 had suffered enough hardship and humiliation since retirement.
Egie said 35 teachers have died due to ill health and disease, lack of care and money to purchase basic medication.
She added that several meetings with government officials yielded no results hence the peaceful protest.
According to her, records from Bureau of Local Government Pension, unremited deductions from staff contribution amounted to N5.9 billion.
Egie said with the current monthly allocation of N300 million by the state government, it will take over eighteen years to offset the N40 billion backlog.
She accused government of wanting local government/primary school retirees to be without any means for over 18 years after retirement.
Egie appealed for an increase in the monthly allocation from N300 million to N2 billion until the backlog is offset.
The protesters had marched to the State House of Assembly but were shut out and unable to see any of the principal officers as the legislature is on recess.
They later took their grievances to Government House where they insisted on having an audience with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa but met a brick wall after security operatives barred them from entering.
However, they danced, drummed and sang solidarity songs to register their discontent, even as they rejected emissaries including the Head of Service, Reginald Bayoko; Senior Special Assistant (Religion Matters) and current chairman of the state chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Apostle Silvanus Okorote; and state chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Goodluck Ofobruku.
They booed the NLC chairman after he said he was unaware that retirees in the local government tier did have issues with receiving their benefits.