-Form Parallel leadership to champion cause
The Imo State leadership of the Nigeria union of pensioners has lost the confidence of its membership and is no longer representing the interest and welfare of Imo Pensioners. As a result a new parallel body detrmined to cater for the interest and the protection of the welfare of the entire Imo pensioners under the name of “ concerned pensioners intervention committee” has been put in place to work assiduously towards ensuring full payment of all arrears of all authentic retired pensions in the state, which have been lingering over the years with particular attention to the last eight months of Hope Uzodinma.
The loss of confidence in the Dr. J.U. Ugochukwu and Pastors Livy Ashiegbu led executive was passed and ratified at an extraordinary grand meeting of state pensioners from the 27 local government areas held on Tuesday September 15, 2020 at the Freedom Square Owerri.
A new body led by Comrade Iyke Ohaneze and Amaechi was approved and immediately ratified to register the organization and to prepare the grounds for the continued cause of the embittered pensioners who have been on the streets of Owerri for few months now in protest while demanding the payment of arrears of their pensions ranging from one month to 56 months since 2011 to date.
The Ugochukwu Ashiegbu led executive in collaboration with the Chilakpu led NLC have been accused of gross ineptitude conspiracy and reported to be working hands in glooves with the governments of the day since 2015 to date just to deny and defraud the retired men and women of their statutory accumulated gratuity and pension since the days of Gov. Okorocha.
It was noted that up to now, the state government indulges staggered pensions payment using political appointees, contractors or consultants in place of the office of the Accountant General if the state through the various sub-treasuries.
In addition to the loss of confidence and sack of the former executives the union as a body has written to the state government through the office of the Accountant General to halt from henceforth, all check-off dues deducted from their members and remittance to anyone. A communiqué issued at the end of the general assembly of the union on September 15, 2020 and reviewed by six members of the interventican committee on behalf of others reads.
Members described and condemned the selective payment of pensioners in the state which has resulted to over eighty-percent of the pensioners having not been paid anything since after the February 2020 payment.
On further discussion, members observed with dismay the covert, clandestine and unprofessional behavior of the Executive of the Imo State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners since 2015 to date which has led to the death of many pensioners.
Members observed that the Union has become a Government House-Annex. Instead of working for the pensioners who they are supposed to represent and fight for their right, they rather prefer working for the Government House and telling the pensioners to be patient, as if hunger has patience.
After much deliberations and arguments, a member of Imo NUP, Dr. J. O. J. Ukonu from (Owerri West) moved a motion of NO-CONFIDENCE on the Executive of the Imo State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP).
The motion was seconded by Mrs. Esther Andrew and Mrs. Catherine C. Okoro and subsequently, unanimously endorsed by all members present and in the attendance, at the extraordinary meeting.
In the course of the meeting held today while reading the resolution and at the mentum of the name of Deacon Livy Ashiegbu, a swarm of reddish co-croaches invented and stormed the venue forcing all the men of God in the place to gather into a congregational intercessory prayer said to send the insects back to sender.
Meanwhile it has been discovered that some political jobbers and fraudster have permeated the union demanding various sums of money from the languishing unpaid pensioners in order to include their names in the list of those authorized to be paid by the Governor and cases have been reported from the municipal council and Ehime Mbano Local Government Area, in this direction.
Our reporter who was at the venue of the meeting learnt that the struggle of the new group to free members from the duties of their executives and mesmerization of the state government, began since 2015 and today has snowballed into a break-up or fragmentation of the elder statesmen’s union (NUP).
Speaking to our reporter, later the coordinator of the committee Ohaneje expressed satisfaction that what they saw months back and have been protesting and based their demands have lately been seen and noticed by the now estranged NUP executives adding that from the tenure of Okorocha government have been short changing the pension using the principles of Rochanomics and the present one is using Hopism to deliberately deny them their rights.
He described as false the governments claim that it has only 900 unpaid pensioners on its record “but look round, the people gathered here are more than two thousand adding that once you owe one pensioner you are owing all pensioners.”
He reiterated that payment of pension is statutory, not negotiable and any government that inherit all public assets should as well inherit its liabilities adding that the only way to solve and resolve pension matters in Imo State is to return pension and gratuity matters to the office of the Accountant General of the state by using sub treasuries who is accountable and liable and not by using political appointees or consultant/contractors, who end up feeding both the state and the pensioners.
Commenting on the vote of no confidence on the N.U.P leadership he said the era of negotiation is over and our executive is “demanding our right”. We are distressed pensioner not by our choice but some persons resolved to deny us our rights.”
Going further he averred that pensioners do not need a court order to replace the Ugochukwu/ Ashiegbu regime.
The women group of the pensioners at the occasion also or sack resolved that if the men folks continue to fail them they will have no other option than take over by themselves and make it “all women affairs”.
Those who signed the communiqué include Comrade C. I Ohaneje chairman, Nze M.C Amaechi- secretary, Chiagoro Teddy Okam, Asoh J.C, Obi C.C and Uzoma Emereole.