The pensioners in Port Harcourt on Wednesday
Okafor Ofiebor /Port Harcourt
The second time in three days, angry retirees of the Rivers State Civil on Friday blocked two lanes of the Asikiwe road leading to Government House Port Harcourt in protest against the refusal of the state government to capture their details in biometric exercise so that they can be paid their arrears of retirement benefits.
Hundreds of aged, frail senior citizens had gone the the State Biometric Centre at the Ministry of Justice, as directed by the Head of Service, Rufus Godwin,through a radio announcement in Port Harcourt on Wednesday December 13, only to be locked out.
The retirees had earlier blocked the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt on Wednesday December 12 as they complained that Governor Nyesom Wike has bluntly refused to pay their pension and gratuity.
Visitors and Staff could not gain access to government house, just as Policemen watched as the drama unfolded without being able to do anything.
The protesting retirees were split into two groups – those under the Contributory pension scheme and those under the old pension scheme.
Lucky Atti, the leader of those under the Contributory Pension Scheme vowed that the protest will continue every Wednesday until Governor Wike pays them.
“Over 90 Retirees have died due to hunger. If Governor Wike says he is Mr Project, our stomach is a vital project to be taken care of. We have served for 35 and above and small money that he is supposed to pay us, despite our protests, he has refused to pay. Is it fair?
“Our Children have chased out of schools, aandlords have evicted most of us from our homes after spending the better part of our lives serving the government”
They vowed that they will continue to block the Government House every Wednesday, which is the day for holding of the State’s Executive Council meeting until Governor Wike repeals the controversial compulsory pension scheme law that the state Governor is latching on so as not pay them.
However, the Rufus Godwin, the Head of Service keep insisting that the Rivers State Government is not owing any pensioner in the state.
He said the state government suspects that protests by pensioners were being sponsored by the opposition.