April 24, 2024

Widows, next of kin of retired pry schoolteachers protest over unpaid entitlements

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Ini Billie, Uyo

Widows and next of kin of retired primary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State have protested as the government reneged on its promises to pay the entitlement benefits of their loved ones.

The union marched along Wellington Bassey Way, near the Government House, Uyo, on Tuesday.

The protesters, who carried banners with inscriptions like, ‘Deacon Udom Emmanuel Save Our Soul (SOS), The Agonies of Widows/Next of Kin of Primary School Teachers in Akwa Ibom State,’ called on the release of funds for the unpaid pensions and gratuities of living teachers from 2011- 2018.

Speaking on behalf of the union, the Secretary, Mr Benson Benjamin wondered why Governor Udom Emmanuel reneged on his promise to pay the N33billion the government owed them.

Benjamin lamented that the government only released a ‘paltry’ N1 billion instead of the N33billion they were owed and sought the refund of a 7.5% pension contribution as well as the harmonisation of their pensions.

“Last year the governor said we should conduct a verification exercise, and after the exercise, it was discovered that the governor was owing over N33 billion. The governor thereafter released a paltry N1billion, which was not enough,” he said.

The Secretary wondered why retired primary school teachers who served for 35 years would be deprived of their entitlements when government officials take their pensions and gratuities upfront before leaving office after serving for just eight years.

He revealed that if the governor fails to accede to their demands, they would stage another protest on September 23, the anniversary of the state’s creation to tell the world how they have suffered.

“These people have served for 35 years and they deserve their entitlements and today we are telling the governor to take the responsibility and pay these people their entitlements; we ask him to come and do the needful.

“Our members are dying by the day; our members cannot go for their medical treatments. We urge the government to take the bull by the horn and pay the entitlements.

“If we go back today without a positive response, we will come back on September 23, to press further our demands and you know what that means because we need that money.

“Things are so expensive, we cannot afford house accommodations, it is the governor’s responsibility to pay the money,” he stated.

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