Pitiable plight of pensioners in Imo State

Imo pensioners recently took to various media platforms including radio, Owerri and national newspapers to lament what they described as non-payment of their pensions including years of arrears under the present APC administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha in Imo State.
The pensioners mostly retired permanent secretaries according to media reports, even went to the extent of penning an open letter to the President Mohammadu Buhari to notify him of their plight. The pensioners equally featured in a radio phone-in programme where they told Imolites and indeed Nigerians what they have been passing through in the hands of Imo State government over non-payment of their pensions.
That was not the first time Imo pensioners have taken their case to the public domain. New Telegraph Newspaper of February 3, 2018, had carried a report where Imo pensioners complained that Governor Okorocha administration owed them between 27-60 months which translated to nearly five years arrears or more. From what the pensioners were saying recently, the situation does not look anything better.
Questions therefore arise from the on-going pensioners’ non-payment palaver. While there have been reports that the past administration of Dr. Ikedi Ohakim showed commitment to payment of salaries and pensions of senior citizens who retired from Imo State Civil service as some pensioners have confessed to that, it is not clear how the present mountain of arrears of pensions of retired Imo civil servants came about. Does it mean that the state government has not been receiving enough revenue from both the monthly federal allocation and its internally generated revenue?
What happened to the various interventions such as the bailout funds given to states by the federal government to clear arrears of salaries and pensions? Does it mean they were not enough to settle pensions and arrears? From what some categories of pensioners were reportedly saying, some of the heap of pensions arrears could have stated piling during Governor Okorocha’s first tenure, that is before 2015 raising the poser as to what reason hindered the state government from paying even when states were believed to have received bumper allocations during Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP government.
Payment of pensions is a basic obligation of government. So, it is surprising that such mountain of pensions could be allowed to accumulate under any government in this 21st century.
It is equally archaic and naïve for any right-thinking person to say that pensioners’ children should look after them as the pension remains their legal right having worked for it for 35 years.
The state government should find a way to end this logjam of mounting pensions arrears before it is too late. Reality is that our retired mothers and fathers, uncles, brothers and friends are dying without their pensions. This is not a good legacy to leave behind by any government or leader.

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