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Delta Govt Disowns Protesting Pensioners, Underlines Political Motivation



Photo credit: fidelityrepoters

Delta Government on Monday said protesting pensioners in the state are not retirees of the state government but primary school retirees under the local government councils.

Briefing journalists in Asaba, Mr Charles Aniagwu, Commissioner for Information, stated that the protests targeted at maligning and impugning the reputation of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was politically motivated.

According to him, the leader of the protesting retirees is Mrs Helen Ejie, who is woman leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Delta North.

“We have it on good authority that the incessant protests emanating from a section of pensioners in the state have become politically motivated.

“The leader of the protesters is Mrs Helen Ejie, a retired teacher from Iyiatu Primary School, Utagba-Ogbe in Ndokwa West. She retired in 2016 and is the coordinator of APC women in Delta North.

“We have seen some stage-managed protests by individuals who ordinarily are supposed to appreciate what the state government has done.

“It is public knowledge that primary schools are under the local government councils in terms of how they are remunerated and how they operate.

“Sometime last year, this same woman led a few persons contrary to the reality of what we are doing they come to Asaba, rub themselves on the ground, pour invectives on the governor in line with what those who have asked them to go and demonstrate.

“They will begin to shout and cast aspersions on the person and office of the Governor.

“What we have always done is to assist them because we believe that they are Deltans and you can recall in 2015 when we came into office, we met over seven months salary arrears owed local government council staff and primary school teachers.

“We assisted them to clear up that arrears and even when we got bailout from the federal government we gave them a grant of N3billion which aided in clearing the backlog,” he said.

On the issue of pensions, Aniagwu said the state government didn’t employ the staff but assisting because the local government councils are not in a financial position to do so at the moment.

“In the area of pensions we have also assisted them to pay, as at when we came they were getting N150m to tackle pensions and we upscaled it to N300m and to fastrack it further, we increased it to N500m monthly.

“We have so far cleared Local Government Pensions to early 2018 and Primary School Teachers owed several years of arrears of pension to August 2016.

“We have said that in addition to the N500m monthly grant, when we access the N150billion bridging finance we will release the sum of N10billion as grant to offset part of the pensions owed these pensioners by the local government councils.” he said.

Last week, the retirees from public primary schools in Delta State staged a protest demanding the payment of their gratuities.
The protest which held in Asaba featured teachers who retired after 35 years of service to the state and were yet to be paid their gratuities seven years on the line.
Speaking on behalf of other retirees, Mrs Ejieh said in spite of repeated promises made during meetings with a delegation of the State government, Gov Okowa bluntly refused to honour his words and have left the retirees in the cold, choosing to pursue a Vice President of Nigeria ambition.
She lamented that in the face of public outcry to the governor to demonstrate a humane sense of leadership on the matter, nothing tangible had been done even when it was clear that the resources to reduce the burden of debt owed the retirees were available to the State Government.

She however pleaded with the state government to declare a state of emergency in the public primary schools retirees gratuities payment matter and also ensure that the over 5.9 billion naira owed by some local councils in the state are duly remitted to the Bureau of local government that is in charge of the payment.

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