Uzodimma and Imo pensioners’ rage

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SIR: The  on-going  pension  verification by the  government  of  Senator  Hope  Uzodinma  has been  facing  a lot  of  challenges and  resistance  from  those benefitting  from  corrupt and fraudulent  status quo. It’s  expected  that they  would  resist  the  change  of equilibrium that  has been  benefitting  them  for several  years  without  detection.

Of recent, Imo State pensioners have been protesting over their alleged unpaid allowances or pensions.  However, it does appear that these protests have assumed a political colouration or dimension.

The  Imo  pension  brouhaha didn’t  start today,  it has  been there  since  the creation  of the  state. My point  of  disagreement  with  those  protesting  intermittently  is why the sudden  change  in their  agitation  for payment? Let’s excuse the military governments and begin from Chief Achike Udenwa’s era till date. Chief Udenwa was governor for eight years (96 months). How many months did he pay pensioners? Did he pay for the whole 96 months? Did he leave any arrears for his successor, Ikedi Ohakim? Next is Chief Ikedi Ohakim. He was governor for four years (48 months). What was his record? Did he pay for the whole of 48 months?

Next is Chief Rochas Okorocha under whose regime pension matters became pronounced, and exacerbated. In fact, it was the worst era in the history of Imo State as far as pension matters are concerned. Okorocha was governor for eight years (96 months just like Udenwa). From  my  investigations  and available  records,  he left  an arrears  of 48 months unpaid  pensions  before he left  office  on May 29, 2019. It implies that out of the 96 months he was governor; he paid for 48 months and left the other 48 months unpaid. Even the 48 months he paid, he short-changed them by paying 40% of their due allowances. What happened to the remaining 60% out those 48 months is left for the present government and anti-corruption agencies to unravel.

Emeka Ihedioha succeeded Rochas  Okorocha. He was governor for a relatively brief period of seven months. He was perceived   to have affected a paradigm shift from the Okorocha’s maltreatment of pensioners. However, Ihedioha didn’t start payment of pensioners’ allowances from June 2019. It  took him  about   four or five  months  to undergo  a verification of  pensioners  to come up  with a  template  or data for payment.  Of the seven months Ihedioha was governor, how many months did he pay? Did he pay for all the seven months he was in power?

In Governor  Hope  Uzodinma’s  seven months in office, Imo pensioners have  protested  more  than they  ever did  with previous  governments  combined. Why the sudden change of attitude or confrontation by pensioners against this government? Why didn’t  they protest on daily  basis  when  Rochas was owing  and  short-changing  them to  the extent  that their arrears  accumulated  to the tune of  48 months? Why were they passive or nonchalant during Okorocha’s regime? Why the undue pressure on this relatively new government under Uzodinma? Why the double standard in their relationship with various governments?

The allegation which has gained traction is that the pensioners’ ranks have been infiltrated by politicians who lost power. If this is true, why should pensioners be sympathetic to one political party against the other? Shouldn’t  they give the present administration  a little  more time  to  sort out  the verification  issue  once  and for all? The present government has the rights to verify and adopt its own template of payment. The pensioners  shouldn’t  have  expected  this government  to adopt  Ihedioha’s  template  when  Ihedioha  didn’t   adopt Okorocha’s  template.

On the  part of  government, efforts or actions should  be  expedited  to  complete this  verification once and for all for prompt  payment  to  continue as  I learnt  that  the government  has been  paying or even  paid up  to the  month of  March. Most of these pensioners depend on their monthly stipends or allowances to feed and buy drugs. Any bureaucratic bottleneck   that would be a stumbling block to their payment must be flushed out from system.

 

  • Ifeanyi Maduako, Owerri, Imo State.

 


Call Bridget Edokwe Esq on 08060798767 or send your email to ngbarrister@gmail.com


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