William Attah, Gombe
Secretary to the Gombe State Government, Professor Abubakar Ibrahim Njodi has met leaders of the Gombe State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners after the union staged a peaceful protest Wednesday morning.
The pensioners were protesting the non enrollment into the pension payroll of more than 700 Local Government retirees more than two years after retirement.
They also want government to resume payment of gratuities to Local Government pensioners which was suspended since June 2012 as well as the payment of state government pensioners which was suspended in 2014.
Another of their demands is that Gombe Local Government pensioners have not been paid March, June, November, December 2020 and January 2021 monthly pension although March 2020 pension was only paid in September, 2020.
But the Secretary to the Gombe State Government (SSG), Abubakar Ibrahim Njodi, who spoke on behalf of Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, appealed to the pensioners to exercise patience and remain calm as the Government is not unaware of their plight.
He said, government is willing and ready to pay all entitlements of the pensioners but for some bottlenecks and abnormalities the administration inherited from the immediate past administration in the State which it is trying to address and change things for the better since the current government was voted based on it’s promise to change things for the better.
According to him, there are many obvious issues affecting the smooth payment of pensions and gratuities but that government is not resting on it’s oars in addressing these problems that had accumulated for years before the coming of the the current administration.
He said blaming the Inuwa Yahaya administration for non payment of their liabilities was not fair because it is common knowledge to all that the immediate past administration squandered N59.6b of bailout funds meant for the payment of pensions, gratuities and salaries without addressing the real issues up to the time it left office.
He said, this is apart from so many anomalies that is recorded about State and Local Government civil servants which include ghost workers among many others and which the administration is committed to address.
The chairman of the pensioners, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, had told Journalists and repeated same to the SSG that Gombe Local Government workers are being paid uninterruptedly but wondered why government says there is no money to pay pensioners.
He said that the union is not against any development, but asked: “can that continue at the expense of our members’ inability to foot bills for food, hospital, school fees, rent and other very important bills necessary for human existence?”
“Certainly, that cannot and should not continue as we are sure the Government cannot let us die. It is our entitlements we are asking for. We are not asking for any other persons’ entitlements but ours. This should be immediately considered,” the Chairman said with stern face.
Earlier, the pensioners had blocked the main entrance into the Gombe State Government House thereby causing commotion. There was no movement into or out of the Government House while their blockade lasted.
Led by their Chairman, Mohammed Abubakar, the Pensioners are protesting non payment of their pensions running into several months.
They had been barred from entering the seat of state power as it was said that the Governor was not in the state.
Security personnel stationed at the gate of the Government House had a tough time controlling the peaceful protesters who insisted on seeing the Governor.
Their message was later taken into the Government House and the Secretary to State Government granted them audience.