By Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
Citing the Salary and Pensions’ Act, Imo retirees have urged Governor Hope Uzodimma to revert salary and pensions payment to the office of the Accountant General.
During a live programme yesterday in Owerri, state chairman of the Association of the Retired Permanent Secretaries, Fabian Agba, and his counterpart in the Pensioners Intervention Committee, Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Ikechukwu Ohaneje, insisted that it was wrong for the governor to have allegedly assigned payment of pensions and salaries to Government House, urging discontinuation of what they termed “selective payments.”
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), through their state chairmen, Austin Chilapku and Nkim Tangban, had issued a statement at the weekend informing Uzodimma of their eight-day warning strike, which began yesterday, over the matter.
During the show, Agba claimed that the retirees were being owed over N80 billion, wondering why successive administrations had kept commissioning private companies to verify and automate the senior citizens when their records were already with the offices of the Head of Service, Auditor General, Civil Service Commission and Accountant General.
Lamenting that the whole exercise amounted to mere waste of resources, he faulted the directive to workers to stay at home as COVID-19 containment measure without being paid their “10 months salary.”
Agba appealed to the governor to either prosecute those he labelled ghost and fraudulent retirees or stop criminalising Imo people before the public.
In his contribution, Ohaneje decried the harm being done to the pensioners on account of the indebtedness.
MEANWHILE, scores of students studying with Imo Polytechnic, Umuagwo, yesterday, staged a peaceful protest over the sudden postponement of their examinations that were to begin same day.
The placard-carrying undergraduates barricaded the busy Owerri-Port Harcourt highway, asking Governor Uzodimma to address them and refund their transportation fares.
According to them, the postponement was third since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
They complained that in each occasion, they were simply asked to go home without refund.
The institution’s Public Relations Officer, Darlington Oparaocha, had in an electronic message said the decision was consequent upon the governor’s directive on closure of government offices and reduction in gatherings to 100 people due to spike in COVID-19 infections across the state.