Nearly 12 days into the stay at home order and lockdown of Imo State, pensioners mostly classified among the vulnerable ones have raised alarm and cried out to the present government to pay them their statutory pensions as many of them are dying quietly and gradually at home not by Covid-19 pandemic but out of hunger. No medication can be accessed by them while the government has refused to pay them their March stipends in addition to previous arrears of more than 45 months.
Speaking to our correspondent in an interview, a pensioner and Secretary of the retired Permanent Secretaries, Comrade F.I Agba, called on the Uzodinma government to do the needful and pay the elder statesmen from the office of the Accountant General with the old list he used to effect January and February 2020, pensions without resorting to another horrendous so-called verification exercise or using consultants which is illegal and fraudulent.
Comrade Agba faulted the practice of using consultants to verify state pensioners thus sidelining the office of the Accountant General who by the wordings of the consultants is authorized to make such payments and can be audited at any time.
He also faulted a statement issued by one of the new Commissioners that the present administration plans to embark on another tortuous verification exercise after more than a dozen of such exercises in the past.
He stated that all that are needed to pay a worker or pensioner his statutory wage is his authenticated identity card arguing that a trader from Nigeria to any other country needs only to present his passport and for a person to join the Army or enter a higher institution in Nigeria, what is required is nothing else than his identity card.
He was of the opinion that Uzodinma government should utilize the list and format deployed in the payment of January and February 2020 pensions for the March 2020 payment and thereafter correct any mistakes or omissions instead of a fresh exercise.
A cross section of other pensioners who were interviewed on the issue were of the opinion that government should have paid them before the stay at home directive knowing that majority of them are on drugs, as well vulnerable to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Some of them expressed gratitude to the state Governor for the all the measures taken so far to ensure that the pandemic does spread into the state but suggested that paying workers and pensioners should have formed part of palliative measures meant to cushion the effects of lockdown.