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I’m ashamed of not paying pensioners – Ortom

I’m ashamed of not paying pensioners – Ortom

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said that he was ashamed that his government has not been able to pay pensioners in the state.
He made this confession while addressing pensioners who had laid siege to the Government House for days. He attributed the problem to the huge arrears he met on ground.
The governor said although he met about N17billion as gratuity and N34billion as pension arrears when he assumed office, he has reduced the amount before the state found itself in a difficult financial situation.
Manwhile, the Pensioners turned down Governor Ortom’s advice to vacate the entrance to the Government House in Makurdi. The pensioners who had last Wednesday moved to the entrance of the Government House, sleeping on mats, vowed to occupy the seat of power until their pensions and gratuities amounting to N25billion are paid.
Peter Kyado, leader of the retirees, said they would remain at the Government House gate until the governor meets their demand.
But Governor Ortom called for understanding from the pensioners, promising that they would be paid about N611 million this week. He said his administration had taken steps to address the problems through domestication of pension law to ease their plight.
Also, the pensioners yesterday booed House of Assembly Speaker, Titus Uba, when he met them at the entrance of the Government House. He reportedly incurred the pensioners’ anger when he told them of an earlier agreement that they would vacate the Government House entrance if paid two-month pension arrears.
The pensioners booed the Speaker and chorused: “It’s a big lie; we must be paid six-month pensions before we leave the Government House.”
Uba said the governor had assented to the Benue Pension Bill, which was expeditiously passed by the Eighth Assembly. He told the angry pensioners: “We are not here to negotiate with you, but to sympathise with you over your plight. As a House, we will not support anything evil against our constituents. We will continue to be on your side. You are our fathers and some of us will join you one day.”
But Ikyado said they wrote letters to the government and other stakeholders before embarking on the protest. “We are demanding to be paid at least six-month pension arrears. We cannot pay our children’s school fees. We cannot afford good food,” he said.
And he added: “Three days ago, three of our members, David Atsanan (Ushongo), Joel Ijir(Oju) and Kiishi Dom(Gboko) died, while one Yaaakur sustained compound fracture.
“We are dying. Your fathers are dying and you do not care about us. We want to die here at the Government House. We are now internally-displaced pensioners.”

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