Delta retirees protest unpaid benefits

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Local government and primary school retirees in Delta State on Tueday marched on the streets of Asaba to protest their unpaid benefits.

Over 1,000 protesters, clad in black, marched on the House of Assembly, which was on recess.

They marched to the Government House but security operatives stopped them.

Undeterred, they danced, drummed and sang songs to register their discontent.

They rejected emissaries, including Head of Service Reginald Bayoko and Senior Special Assistant (Religion Matters) Silvanus Okorote and Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Goodluck Ofobruku.

NLC chair said he was unaware local government retirees were yet to get their benefits.

He was booed by protesters, who displayed placards: ‘Pay us our gratuity from 2014 till date’; ‘Our Pension Mata: No Retreat, No Surrender’; ‘EFCC Probe all PFA’s’; ‘Let us Reap the Fruit of Our 35 years Labour’, among others.

Their spokesperson, Chief Helen Egie, said retirees had suffered hardship and humiliation since retirement.

She added that meetings with the government yielded no result, hence the protest.

Egie lamented that 35 teachers died due to lack of care, adding that a backlog of accrued rights in December was N48,369,331,624.00, of which N8,137,909,068 is for council retirees and N40,231,422,556.00 for primary school retirees.

She said records from Bureau of Local Government Pension showed unremitted deductions from staff contribution amounted to N5.9 billion.

Egie said with the monthly allocation of N300,000 by the government, it would take over 18 years to offset the N40 billion backlog.

They appealed for an raise in the monthly allocation from N300 million to N2 billion until the backlog was paid.

Bayoko sued for patience, saying the government was concerned about their plight.

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