LG retirees in Cross River demand payment of N9b arrears

Bassey Okosin, state Chairman, Association of Local Government Pensioners, who dropped the hint at news briefing on Tuesday in Calabar, said the debt had been owed for 11 years now.

Local government retirees in Cross River have vowed to occupy all government offices in the state if the State Government fails to pay them N9 billion arrears of gratuities and pension.
Bassey Okosin, state Chairman, Association of Local Government Pensioners, who dropped the hint at news briefing on Tuesday in Calabar, said the debt had been owed for 11 years now.
Okosin said the Governor Ben Ayade-led administration had been given one month within which it must begin to pay the gratuity and pension arrears owed them from 2007 to 2018.
She expressed displeasure over the neglect of local government retirees in the state and emphasised that they would embark on a protest on or after February 16.
He said: “Our state governor has received one part of the bailout fund and two tranches of the Paris Club refund, yet, no single local government retirees has been paid.
“We heard that the Federal Government had released the funds for the primary purpose of clearing all outstanding salaries, pensions and gratuities; why then are we not paid?
“As of today, we have an average of 25 local government workers retiring from service monthly.
“If we don’t receive this money under one month, the 5,600 pensioners in Cross River will occupy all relevant government offices until we are paid.
“Some people who are retiring now can no longer be captured in the nominal roll because from what we heard, the list is filled up.
“We are appealing to the state government to allocate some of the monies received to us.
“In addition, we want the state government to allocate 15 per cent of the monthly allocation from the federation account to retirees.’’
The chairman expressed regrets that they had been denied their entitlements, saying that they were told that the bailout and the Paris Club refunds did not cover local government pensioners.
According to him, more than 600 local government pensioners’ names that were omitted during the 2016 personal audit were still outstanding.
Okosin said: “We have exhausted all known means of reaching out to the relevant arms of government without result.
“We have taken a decision to pack our loads and live in all the offices that are responsible for the payment of these entitlements until further notice.
“This is not a threat but what is likely to happen in the next one month.
“All our members have mobilised themselves from all the 18 local government areas of the state for this exercise.’’
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