An elderly man on Monday collapsed in Edo State as retirees protested over their unpaid pensions and gratuities by the state government.
During the exercise, the senior citizens disrupted the flow of traffic at Ring Road in Benin City, the state capital while airing their grievances.
Most of them, dressed in black top and black trousers, carried placards bearing different inscriptions like ‘Governor Obaseki, please pay us our gratuity,’ ‘All we are saying pay us our gratuity,’ ‘Pensioners need gratuity to take care of our health and family’ among others.
Suddenly, one of their colleagues slumped, a situation that forced the other protesters to suddenly rush him to a nearby hospital for treatment.
According to them, the non-payment of their gratuity dates back to the administration of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
While noting that they have had enough, the retirees insisted that they have been denied the harmonisation of their pensions in Edo State and that the harmonisation is backed by law.
One of the pensioners, Godwin Egbon, told Channels Television that whenever there is a salary increase, pensions should also be increased by the same percentage.
“The Constitution says whenever there is salary increase, pensioners’ pension should also be increased by the same percentage but nothing is being said and nothing is being done,” he said.
“Worst still, the ‘Comrade Governor’ Oshiomhole, a union man who ought to have corrected these ills, did not do it.”
The pensioners also alleged that the state government connived with some union members to withdraw one percent from their already lean pension as dues for their unions.
‘Govt Does Not Owe A Penny’
But the state government says it is caught in the crossfire between two opposing pensioner union members, insisting that is the main reason for the protest.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Crusoe Osagie said the state government does not owe the pensioners a dime.
“There is supposed to be a statutory one percent deduction which they have not ironed out among themselves yet, so that is what is causing this crisis,” he said.
“The state government is caught in a cross-fire of disagreements within pension unions in the state. Whatever happened today with pensioners’ protest didn’t have anything to do with protests being owed because this state government does not owe a penny.”