Pensioners in Ebonyi said on Thursday that they had embarked on a one-day prayer retreat to seek God’s intervention on their plight in the state.
The Chairman of the National Union of Pensioners in Ebonyi, Donatus Okemini, disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Abakaliki.
Okemini said: “We have tried every other means including meeting with the relevant authorities, peaceful demonstrations to the Government House, and writing of letters to draw government’s attention to our plight to no avail.
“We have decided to petition the Almighty God who controls the minds of the leaders for intervention in our situation.
“God can do all things and we believe that having exhausted all human strategies, it is time to bring in God’s dimension to our struggle.
“We have gathered here today for no other reason but to cry out to God and appeal to Him to personally intervene in our sorry plights.”
According to him, government deliberately subjected pensioners to untold hardship by withholding their monthly pensions, thereby creating arrears of pensions.
He said: “If they pay these pensions every month there won’t be a stock-pile of arrears, and the issue of non-availability of funds to pay the backlogs will not arise.
“No local government pensioner in Ebonyi has received the October 2016 arrears while about five are yet to receive February 2017 pension.”
Okemini said that government adopted a policy of payment of gratuities to retirees in piecemeal, noting that the policy was a clear violation of the extant public service rule.
He said: “Workers` gratuities are paid in block and we are demanding that Ebonyi government stop the policy of paying retirees their gratuities in bits.
“Our public service rule should be respected in paying retired workers their benefits hence we demand 100 per cent block payment of gratuities.”
The union’s Secretary in the state, Chief Ukpai Arua, urged the state government to do the needful and address the high death rate of pensioners.
Arua alleged that pensioners died daily not because of sickness but due to ill treatment given to them by government.
He further urged governments at all levels to have a rethink on the way pensioners were being treated.
The secretary expressed optimism that the prayer session would attract God’s intervention and change the situation of the pensioners for good.
Arua said: “You cannot predict God and that is exactly why we decided to go back to Him and we believe that He will respond to our cry because this prayer is a cry to God.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that over 3,000 pensioners took part in the one-day prayer retreat.