Reasons behind the repeated appearance of Imo pensioners on the streets of Owerri, the State capital to protest against the State Government has been revealed.
Trumpeta notes that protests by pensioners have become a recurring decimal in Imo State since Senator Hope Uzodinma took over office.
Recall that after the initial demonstration that paralysed Owerri, another one took place again before that of Tuesday.
Trumpeta learnt that several reasons bothering on non- payment of allowances may have been responsible for their quest to always stage protests.
According to the Pensions Intervention Committee, PIC, a group from the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, their problems started with the Owelle Rochas Okorocha administration as the former governor was accused to have dismantled all structures leading to the owing of forty eight months pension arrears.
According to a write up of their position, the Uzodinma administration commenced on wrong footing hence the protests.
The present administration started on a very false note of not paying pensions by claiming that the government is looking for the List of, pensioners in Imo State. In all fairness, that claim was not true. The Accountant General has an up to date list of pensioners even those who have not been cued in for payment”
It also adds that “Therefore a government not paying pensions is a total breach on the financial law of the State in addition to offending Section 210 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979 (as amended). This is why pensioners and knowledgeable people have been demanding that payment of pensions should be returned to the appropriate Institution which is the sub-Treasuries where expertise is involved. When sub- treasuries were paying pensions under the strict supervision of the Accountant General, there were no problems nor complaints.
“The Pensions Reforms Act makes payment of pensions and gratuity a major responsibility of the Accountant General. The, government has been falsely shouting about “fraud and “Ghost” pensioners. But let us make it clear that the pensioner is never involved in the preparation and payment of pensions. So if there are any fraudulent behavior or corruption in pensions payment, it is the government that is promoting it by the ad-hoc staff and contractors they use.
“There is no gain saying that the un-orthodox method adopted by the government is a veritable instrument for corruption and fraud, because at the end of the exercise there is no audit which will point out irregularities. But if the sub-Treasuries handle payment, the established beaurocracy already has an audit section enshrined in the system. Furthermore, the ad-hoc staff or contractors do not have the expertise, they do not have the loyalty to the system and may not be available for questioning in future if there are errors. They are simply mercenaries.
Somebody, somewhere is demanding birth certificates and date of birth as part of documents to identify pensioners. Of what relevance has date of birth to the identification of a pensioners who has been officially retired from his department and confirmed by the Establishment Office of the Head of Service. These are all diversionary methods to stop or delay paying pensioners.
“The mission of the pensions Intervention Committee is to sanitize pensions payment such that genuine pensioners are paid their pensions as at when’ due through the right government institution. So we sincerely appeal to the government to return without any hesitation payment of pensions and honestly all other payments for that matter to the Accountant General’s office and the sub-Treasuries”, it added.