Ortom has not paid pensioners since April 2019: Union

Gov. Samuel Ortom

Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue State

By Nicholas Dechi/Makurdi

The National Union Coalition of Aggrieved Pensioners in Benue has appealed to Governor Samuel Ortom to pay them their pension arrears, now going into 33 months.

The union made the appeal on Friday, according to a statement by its Chairman, Mr Akosu Orban and Secretary Mac Mtsur.

The union said only six months out of the 33 months of pension arrears owed them, were inherited from the previous administration.

Ortom owes the pensioners 27 months in arrears, the union said. It said members were last paid in April 2019.

“We were paid the November 2018 arrears on Sept. 9, 2020 and on Nov. 18, 2020 we were paid December 2018 pensions.

“Also, on Jan. 11, 2021 we were paid January 2019 and on May 14, 2021, we were paid February 2019.

“On July 17, 2021, we were paid March 2019 and on Sept. 10, 2021 we were paid April 2019. Since then, there has been no further payment till date,” the union said

The union wondered why pension arrears were rising despite the claim of N700 million monthly being released for pension payment by government.

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“It is saddening to note that we are dying on a daily basis, as most of us are on special diet and drugs, but cannot even afford the funds to maintain ourselves.

“Some of us have become beggars, scavengers, refugees, fugitives and destitute.

“If this inhumanity to man meted to us persists, we may be forced or tempted to use our numerical strength and adopt a different strategy to our problem,” the union warned.

Meanwhile, Gov. Samuel Ortom, in a statement signed by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr Nathaniel Ikyur, said that his government had an agreement with the leadership the pensioners.

“Since then I have been paying the sum of N700 Million to the pensioners in the state. Out of this amount, N300 million is paid to the local government pensioners and N400 million to state pensioners every month.

“This mode of payment has been in effect in the last six months and government intends to continue with it until we are able to stabilise the payment system,” he said

The governor further stated that the state government had domesticated the National Pension Commission’s law to serve as a permanent solution to issues of retiring civil servants.

“This means that when people retire from the public service, the challenge of waiting on government will not arise.

“They will be paid by their respective pension Administrators as soon as they retire,” he said