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Pensioners in Edo State on Sunday protested non-payment of their gratuities since they retired in 2012.
The pensioners stormed the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, the venue where Workers’ Day celebration is being held in Benin to protest their entitlements.
Earlier at the event, Governor Godwin had announced the upward review of the state workers’ minimum wage from N30,000 to N40,000 in commemoration of the 2022 Workers’ Day.
The protesting senior citizens wore black attires and carried placards, appealing to Governor Obaseki to rescue them by paying their gratuities.
Irene Aiguobarueghian who spoke on behalf of the protesters said since their retirement, they were only being paid their monthly pay but yet to get their gratuities.
She said, “We have come here to beg the governor to pay us our gratuity. Since 2012, he has collected our money and he has not paid us. He has not said anything about our gratuity, we are begging him to pay us. We have been receiving monthly pay but he has not said anything about our gratuity.”
Responding to the protesters, Governor Obaseki “I am particularly interested in our senior citizens because they are one of the most vulnerable in our society. We took interest in payments of outstanding pensions to our pensioners although these pensions were held by the previous administration.
“In view of the prevailing economic circumstances, I have now approved, effective this May, the agreement we reached with the Union of Pensioners that the harmonised amount would be paid from May 2022.
“Government is aware of the difficulties faced by the pensioners due to the non-payment of pension and gratuities to pensioners by previous governments. This responsibility is huge, and it will require a substantial part of our resources to settle them.
“However, we are not a government that is known for running away from challenges; we will look for a way to tackle these challenges.”
The governor added, “We are not a government that runs away from responsibilities. We will look for a way out to clear all the gratuities. We have cleared all the pension arrears and we will now focus on all the adjustments. I have directed that all the harmonised amounts we have agreed upon, we will begin payment this month.
“The purchasing power of an average worker continues to decrease. I want to appeal to the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on food security; if this is not done, we cannot predict what will happen next.
“For optimum performance of our workers, we have resolved to do an upward review of the salary of workers of Edo State. The minimum wage will now be N40,000 per month as against the previous payment of N30,000.”
Earlier in their speeches, the two workers’ unions, the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, applauded the governor on the development of infrastructure in the state.