Hundreds of pensioners stormed Rivers State Secretariat Complex in the early hours of Wednesday in protest against non payment of their pensions and gratuities.
The pensioners who were armed with placards which depict their demands lashed out at the administration of Governor Nyesom Wike for not making the payment of their pension a priority.
They noted that Wike has been garnering numerous awards and bearing the sobriquet “Mr Project” for executing numerous infrastructure projects in the state.
But they said the governor has failed woefully for not remembering senior citizens like them who toiled for over 30 years of their lives serving the state with nothing to show.
The spokesperson for the pensioners, Mr Lucky Ati, said that the state government is owing over 2, 000 Pensioners under the Contributory Pension Scheme in an excess of of N70 billion. He added that the pension providers are insisting that they cannot pay the Pensioners until the state pays its counterpart funds.
Addressing the civil servants still in service, Lucky Ati, warned :”We are suffering from the nonpayment of our legitimate entitlements and you people still in service are behaving as if the issue does not matter and because it does not concern you now. Don’t worry about it now. You will soon join us and lament with us.”
He lamented that despite the fact that the retirees had their contributions deducted from their salaries when they were in service, the contributory pension scheme providers are refusing to pay them.
“All we went now is that the Contributory Pension Law be abrogated. It is suffocating us. Many of us have died out of penury. Some us are diabetic and suffering from all manner of diseases. Is it a crime to serve the state for 33 years and above?”
Mr. Rufus Godwin, who addressed the pensioners on behalf of the government said Wike inherited arrears of salaries owed to civil Servants when he came into power.
“From what I can gather from your protest, you’re demanding that the contributory pension law be abrogated. But I should make it clear that since 2009 the previous administration never contributed its own counterpart funds to the scheme. thus making it difficult for this administration “.
He promised to take their demands to the Governor for his attention.
“You have every right to a peaceful protest to press home your demands. This is the right way to make your demands. I will table your demands before the Governor,” Godwin assured.