It was a pitiable site to behold yesterday , June 23, as Imo pensioners took to the streets of Owerri city to protest the non payment of their 4 months pension arears owed them by the present administration of Governor Hope Uzodimma, accusing the regime of reneging on all entreaties by the senior citizens to save them from imminent death as they have no other source of living.
The pensioners, under the aegis of Nigeria Union of pensioners (NUP) took their protest to the government house where they barricaded all routes leading to the government house, causing a major gridlock along wetheral, okigwe and bank roads for hours.
Addressing newsmen at the government House roundabout where the crowd of over 5,000 old men and women had gathered to protest what some of them called, “an intentional plan by Governor Uzodinma to exterminate us all,” the state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Mr. C.I. Ohaneje lamented that they had lost several members due to starvation occasioned by non-payment of their pensions.
The retirees insisted they were not begging but demanding for their right to their pensions to be honoured by the administration, stressing that they decided to embark on the protest after all appeals to the government had failed.
Some of the placards displayed by the protesting pensioners read: what offence did retirees commit; pensioners are dying, while Imo government keeps lying: Orlu zone says stop tampering with our pensions; Retirees demand their pensions; pensions payment is a right and not a privileged; Okigwe zone says pay retirees their pensions; Owerri zone demands our pensions; Grade levels 1-7 and permanent secretaries were paid march and April while levels 8-17 were skipped and others.
During the protest, some retirees collapsed due to exhaustion as the protesters rained insults and curses on Governor Uzodimma, questioning why he took over the reins of power from Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha who was paying them their pensions without hitches. However, efforts by the state police leadership to address the retirees were rebuffed as they insisted, they were not government officials and held no position to change anything.