Pensioners in Benue State have refused Governor Samuel Ortom’s advice to vacate the entrance to the Government House in Makurdi.
This comes after the pensioners last week moved to the entrance of the Government House, sleeping on mats. The pensioners vowed to occupy the seat of power until their pensions and gratuities amounting to N25billion are paid saying they had not been paid for 25 months.
Their leader, Peter Kyado, said they would remain at the Government House gate until the governor meets their demand.
Governor Ortom, who cut short his trip to Abuja to address the pensioners, said: “I’m ashamed that my government has been unable to meet its financial obligation to the pensioners, who are senior citizens”.
Ortom described the situation the pensioners found themselves as sad, but promised to address their plight. The governor said he met about N17billion as gratuity and N34billion as pension arrears when he took over the mantle of leadership, but had reduced the amount before the state found itself in a difficult financial situation.
He called for understanding from the pensioners. Ortom said his administration had taken steps to address the problems through domestication of pension law to ease their plight. He said as a palliative measure, he had obtained a bank overdraft of N611 million, adding that “between Monday and Tuesday the pensioners will be paid two- month pensions.”
However, the pensioners, who are between 60 and 70 years, refused to leave the Government House entrance “until the government meets our demand.” As at 5pm on Monday, the pensioners were still observing their ‘sit out’ protest at the main entrance of the Government House.