The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman in Benue, Mr John Ngbede, has appealed to pensioners in the state to be patient with the Gov. Samuel Ortom-led administration over their outstanding pension and gratuities.
Ngbede, who made the appeal at a press conference held on Saturday in Makurdi said that government was making frantic efforts to clear the arrears of their pension and gratuities.
He said that part of government’s commitment to addressing the issue of pension and gratuities in the state was the constitution of Pensions Commission by the governor.
According to him, the commission comprises of men and women of proven pedigree, who are, themselves, retirees from the civil service.
”The commission, which was inaugurated by Gov. Ortom recently, is vested with the mandate of tackling holistically issues of pensions to retirees, both in the arrears and on due basis.
”It is, therefore, a thing of concern that the senior citizens could stage such protests shortly after the inauguration of that commission.
“The commission is theirs, and they ordinarily should have accorded some respect to it by allowing it to commence work without any hitch.
”By so doing, our respected retirees would have been seen as giving the commission, and by extension, the Gov. Ortom-led administration, benefit of the doubt.
”The state government had also paid over N18 billion as pensions and gratuities to the retirees from 2015 till date.
”The arrears of N11 billion owed the senior citizens by the previous administration has also contributed to the problem on ground, and this was reiterated by the governor while addressing the protesting retirees on Friday,” he said.
Ngbede said that it was a thing of concern to him that some chieftains of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) got themselves involved in the protests by the pensioners.
He particularly condemned the visit to the protesting pensioners by a former Police Commissioner, Alh. Abubakar Tsav.
“The involvement of Tsav in a matter of that nature may not come as a surprise to those who are aware of his history of serial attacks on the person of Gov. Ortom.
”Tsav’s voice has never, at any time, been heard condemning the herdsmen’s invasion, which is the worst tragedy to have befallen Benue in recent times.
“Also, he has neither visited the internally-displaced persons in the state nor shown any empathy towards them, but he has found it auspicious to visit protesting retirees. This, certainly, is not a humanitarian gesture,” he said.