Maiduguri— Hundreds of pensioners in Borno on Thursday, thronged the state secretariat to protest the nonpayment of their gratuities and pension arrears since 2016.
A cross section of pensioners
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the pensioners who converged at the popular post office junction, prevented state government officials from gaining entrance into the secretariat.
As a result of the development, social and commercial activities at the post office were disrupted as the protesters barricaded roads leading to Monday Market and main Maiduguri round about.
Some of the protesters who spoke with NAN during the procession, said government presently owed them over 24 months pension arrears with huge gratuities.
Muhammed Dugja, a pensioner, said that he was yet to receive any payment of his benefits from the state government since 2016.
Dugja said, “We were told to do the Biometric Verification which we did since 2017 but we are yet to receive our entitlements.
“Honestly, the situation we find ourselves is very lamentable.
“I cannot pay my children’s school fees, the landlords have thrown us out of the house since October because we could not pay our rent.
“Sometimes, even to feed the family is a big challenge,”he said.
Ibrahim Abubakar, another pensioner who retired from the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation, said that many retirees had died of frustration because of the hardship condition.
Abubakar said, “We have been following up this issue with many other colleagues.
“Many of them have died due to frustration and detonative health condition associated with non-payment of their benefits, after retirement.
“Many young men you see here are families of those who died without getting their pension and gratuities.”
Mrs Binta Isa, another protestant, who said she was yet to receive her late husband’s benefit since 2016, expressed her frustration over the ongoing state government biometric verification.
“They said we have to undergo biometric before they pay us. This is more than two years since they started the exercise and they are yet to call us.
“I am appealing to the governor to temper justice with mercy and come to our aid,” she said.
The state Deputy Gov. Usman Durkwa, who addressed the protesters, appealed to them to remain calm and channel their grievances through their unions.
“I am here to meet you on behalf of the governor; I am here to say we are sorry for everything. I want you to stop the protest.
“Please select 10 of your members who will come with me to meet the governor to solve this issue amicably, “he said.
Speaking on the issue, Titus Abana, Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, told NAN that government had not taken seriously the suffering of the state civil servants and pensioners.
Abana said senior civil servants were forced to undergo biometric verification there by exposing many of them to untold hardship, noting that some retirees had died of frustration and poor health condition.
He said it was sad that the verification, which was supposed to last for only six months lasted for more than two years yet many retirees were yet to be paid.
“I wish to join the protesters to demand the quick release of their benefits. It is a right and not a privilege, “he said.