The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has commended Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi for prompt and regular payment of monthly pension to retired civil servants in the state .
Mr Arua Ukpai, Secretary of NUP in Ebonyi made the commendation in an interview with Summitnews on Wednesday in Abakaliki.
The union also extolled Mrs Lillian Nwankwo, Chairman, Ebonyi Pensions Board for the cordial relationship existing between the board and the union.
According to him, monies approved by government for payment of pensions and other entitlements to the pensioners were always speedly disbursed by the board.
He noted that every complaint from members with regard to issues of payment pensions brought before the board were also speedly resolved.
“We do not have problem as regards to regular payments of pensioners monthly pensions in the state.
“The governor ensures that every pensioner receives regular monthly payment of his or her pension and we are commending him for being up to date with the payment.
“The pension board doesn’t delay to pay once they get allocation to pay.
“Before now, the federal government used to pay 15 per cent of local government’s statutory monthly allocation to the pensions board which is used to pay the pensioners but, this has stopped leading to delays in payment of LG pensioners.
“So, we have been receiving our payments monthly and regularly despite some hitches here and there like the Bank Verification Number (BVN) issues.
“Some of us because of the the BVN have not received their pensions for about 10 months and many have died due to the issue,” Ukpai said.
The secretary noted that the governor had earlier issued directive that all issues of BVN leading to non payment of some pensioners should be resolved immediately to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown on the affected pensioners.
He lamented non compliance to the executive directive by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning.
“The governor will give an order but the people whose duty it is to implement will refuse to carryout the directive.
“For 10 months, some pensioners have not received their pension due to the BVN which was introduced in November and the problem is yet unresolved while many pensioners have died,” he added
Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi
He alleged that Prof Ogbonna Chukwu, the state Commissioner of Finance was not doing enough to alleviate the plight of the pensioners by implementing the directive of the governor on the BVN.
“The only problem we have is the Commissioner who is holding pensioners to a ransom by refusing to implement governor’s directive; we have confronted him on this matter and we have even taken our case before the governor, ” he said.
Ukpai, however regretted that after the 2018 partial payment of gratuity to retirees that government was yet to pay gratuity to deserving retirees.
“No pensioner has been paid gratuity in the state after the partial percentage payments made to randomly selected pensioners in 2018.
“It did not go round the whole pensioners who needed the gratuity and besides, gratuities are never paid in percentage anywhere in the country; it is a bulk money given to the retiree to start live after leaving the service, ” he said.
Ukpai who decried the plight and hardship faced by pensioners who were yet to receive more than 10 months arrears of their pension appealed to the governor to intervene to safe them from starving to death.
He also appealed to Umahi to commence payment of gratuities to beneficiaries to cushion the effect of the economic hardship occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.