This column cannot be tired or frustrated with discussing or canvassing the issues relating to the aged ones. Culturally, traditionally and socially, the grey haired citizen is often respected, revered and protected. In times of wars or other calamities, they are given preferential treatment and protected. All religions have a soft spot for the aged ones and the aged ones are the progenitors of human, social, civilization and growth hence the wise admonition in the Holy Bible and the Koran to the people of God to protect and provide for their parents and not to harken to anger in order not to attract their curse or God’s anger.
Here in Imo State, one Pastor Engr Christian Chukwu, an Aba based humanitarian organization under “Afri Organization for the aged”, established such an outfit which the politicians of Imo State under Governor Achike Udenwa hijacked and similarly the Catholic Church has a special home for these elderly persons but it is a matter of regret and lamentation that governments and politicians of the present Imo State have neither regards nor show empathy or concern for the upkeep and welfare of these category of human species, who as citizens in their vibrant youths must have contributed their best to the growth, development in population, economy, education, commerce etc of the human society. This category of human beings are currently classified top most among the vulnerable ones as the greatest victims of the ravaging global Coronavirus pandemic.
Here in Imo State,these persons who have officially served our society in their various capacities have suffered total neglect and yet abandoned to their fate, faced by hunger, tortured by starvation and left to the mercy of underlying ailments of ulcer, high blood pressure, stroke or paralysis and other diseases. Various governments of the State have turned blind eyes at even paying these elderly ones monthly pensions for services they rendered in the past. There were times that Imo government explained that a pensioner must have children to take care of his old age and if he has none, he should take his beddings and relocate to the cemetery or mortuaries.
Well the great Zik of Africa once said “those who curse old age would never live to see old age” and same goes for the vibrant youths who become world billionaire on the sweat and salary of pensioners. It is really unfortunate that a highly educated rich state like the land of Hope cannot cater for her elder citizens. That Imo government for the past one decade cannot provide to pay the statutory paltry percentage of earned emoluments of these pensioners is an eye sore. It is most unfortunate.
Between 2012 and 2013, the rescue mission after series of verifications exercises adopted acceptable measures of paying these gerunds in their homes before the god of darkness enveloped that administration hence these people were left in the lurch for years. That was before the advent of Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, who spent millions of Naira to conduct what could be described as the “mother of all verifications” and thereafter till he left office only paid these elder statesmen for five months leaving behind another huge bulk of 22-48 months of arrears owed these elderly people. What crime or sin did these our fathers and mothers commit against Imo that cannot be forgiven?
Governor Hope Uzodinma in his continuity agenda was able to pay these pensioners for January and February 2020, but with the introduction of the Covid-19 lockdown in the state, Imo pensioners appear to have been forgotten in the scheme of things. They are not included in the distribution of preventive or food palliatives and not even good to be paid their merited pensions.
We appeal to Governor of Hope to give Hope to these persons. We request the Commissioners of Health, Housing and Humanitarian Affairs and SAs. Let us put these elder citizens in correct perspective. We need them and we owe them obligation to protect and provide for them. We fly to the patronage and solicit for the advocacy in action of the Nigerian Labour Congress, all Labour Unions and all Workers of Imo to intercede on behalf of Imo pensioners, for what you are today they were yesterday and what they are today, you may be tomorrow. Think and act for ourselves. The pensioners.