..say suffering has become unbearable

By Jon Egie

 

Comrade Mode Augustine, Sir Henry Tukpe, Allensgate Agbanobi and Onwudijo Christopher, leaders of the retirees during a recent meeting in Ughelli

Local government and public primary schools retirees on the aegis of Concerned Delta State Local Government Contributory Retirees have passionately appealed to the Delta State Governor, Senator Dr Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa to release substantial amount of money from about 5.9 billion naira unremitted contributory deductions presently in the State Government’s coffer to the State Bureau of Local Government Pensions to enable the agency pay outstanding arrears of pensions owed to them.

A statement signed by Messrs Mode Augustine, Sir Henry Tukpe, Allensgate Agbanobi and Onwundijo Christopher on behalf of the retirees recalled that the perennial problems associated with the old pension scheme (Defined Benefit) led to the establishment of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) with the main objectives to: assisting employees save in order to cater for their livelihood during old age, ensure that pensioners were not subjected to untold sufferings after retirement and ensure that every person who has worked in either public or private sector received his or her retirement benefit as when due.

According to the statement, Rule 1.2.1 of the Pension Act provides that an employee could access his or her Retirement Savings Account (RSA) when such a person ceases to make further contribution into the RSA as a result of mandatory retirement.

“What then could be the reason (s) for denying retirees in the local government including public primary schools teachers in Delta State access to the funds they contributed from their salaries after over five years of retirement?” They asked.

They appealed to Governor Okowa to save them from untold hardship, pains and tears they are passing through while waiting endlessly to collect their pension.

“Most of us have no other means of livelihood apart from salaries that were stopped following our retirement. The situation has become unbearable as some of us are on medications, others living in rented apartments, while many are struggling to pay children school fees.

“We urge the governor to consider, approve and direct the Local Government Pension Bureau to issue necessary documents that will enable us access the money we contributed to our Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs) pending the payment of the Accrued Rights from the State as was already being applied to deceased employees/retirees in the State.

“On the alternative, put the retirees on pensions pending when the gratuity is paid as it is being done in Edo State.” They further pleaded.

Meanwhile, a human rights activist and legal practitioner, Ikimi Oghenejabor Esq has, in a letter addressed to 15 pensions managers demanded that the retirees be allowed unfettered access to utilize their contribution in their Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA) and requested the employer of the retirees to pay the outstanding contribution into the retirees’ individual RSA forthwith.

The human rights activists called on the National Pension Commission to prevail on the Delta State Government being employer of the local government and public primary schools retirees “to remit forthwith the contribution in their individual RSA or be sanctioned accordingly, warning that should the demands be ignored, “we shall not hesitate to approach any of the High Court in Delta State for an order of Mandamus and claim damages at large against you.”