Human and vehicular traffic came to a standstill on Wednesday as retirees blocked the ever busy Bank Road, Port Harcourt to protest nonpayment of pension and gratuities by the Rivers State Government.
The retirees, constituting pensioners of 2012 – 2015 in Rivers State, said the situation had caused them untold hardship, appealed to Governor Nyesom to treat their matter with utmost dispatch.
Displaying placards with various inscriptions like 'We demand the payment of our initial pension, monthly pension arrears and gratuities', 'We have all turned to beggars', 'Pensioners are dying in their numbers' etc, the retirees, through their spokesperson, Mr. Patrick Sokari told journalists that they have become shadow of their own selves following the pathetic situation.
According to the group, Rivers State government only paid them for the month of November, 2017 'after years of much suffering', adding that the union, after the payment, wrote to thank Governor Wike for the gesture while awaiting complete payment of their pension arrears and gratuities but all to no avail.
One of the retirees, Mrs. Grace Jaja in an interview, regretted that many of her colleagues have died while some are presently bed-ridden as a result of hardship and depression.
“This is very unbearable and unfair. How can citizens who spent the prime of their lives to serve the government be treated in this manner?” asked Mrs. Jaja, wondering why payment to Pensioners would always turn to excuses even with budgetary allocations and Paris Club Fund which are specifically meant for payment of pensions and gratuities.