2 Benue pensioners slump during protest

Two pensioners of the Benue State Civil Service slumped on Wednesday during a protest staged by retirees under the umbrella of Concerned Benue Pensioners in Makurdi, the state capital.

The retirees were protesting the non-payment of unpaid entitlements and gratuity which spanned 11 months by the Benue state government.

During the protest round the streets of Makurdi, two of the retirees allegedly slumped and became unconscious. All efforts to revive the affected retirees proved unsuccessful. They were taken to an undisclosed hospital for medical attention.

Some of the inscriptions on the protesters’ placards read, “Gov Ortom fulfill your campaign promises’’, ‘’Do not starve us to death,’’ “Pay us our pension’’, “We are more than 30,000 pensioners and we are dying like chickens everyday’’, “We are unable to buy our drugs’’, “Our children have stopped going to schools” and so on.

During the protest the retirees caused heavy gridlock lasting for hours. They barricaded the popular CBN- Government House Roundabout.

On hand to receive the protesters at the Government House was the Acting Secretary to the Benue State Government, Dr. Bem Meladu, commissioners of finance, education and the Head of Service.

Presenting their protest letter to the SSG for onward delivery to the governor who was said to be out of the state, the Chairman of the Concerned Benue Pensioners, Peter Ikyado, said the protest would not end if the state government failed to attend to their plight.

He added that his members were tired of “continued failed promises” by the state government on the payment of their pension arrears.

Ikyado said, “We had variously addressed letters on the issue of our unpaid benefits to President (Muhammadu) Buhari, Governor Samuel Ortom, the state Head of Service and other relevant stakeholders including the media. This is because we pensioners feel that we have suffered enough and have been short-changed. Irregular pension payments have become the order of the day. The payments do not even reflect what the pensioners should be earning due to lack of harmonisation of pension rate increases over the years.”

The chairman, who could not hold back his tears while delivering the speech, had to discontinue with it and directed his secretary to complete the message.

Meanwhile, the Acting SSG, Bem Meladu, however calm the pensioners as he appealed to them to exercise some patience with the state government as all measures were already in place to commence the payment of pensioners in the state.

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