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After 15 Years, Enugu Pensioners Receive Gratuities

Photo caption: Enugu state Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

From Ignatius Okpara

ENUGU NIGERIA, (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The joy of pensioners in Enugu State Local Government system some of whom retired 15 years ago, yesterday knew no bound, as they were paid their gratuities.

Some of the beneficiaries, who reacted to the development in Enugu, thanked the state Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for salvaging the long-forgotten senior citizens.

One of them, Elder Ishiwu Romanus Ezeugwu, at Ogbede headquarters of Igbo-Etiti local council after collecting his cheque said: “since this Governor has remembered us, those government forgot us for more than ten years, God will not forget him, he will live long, and he will win election many, many tines”.

The elder statesman, along with other pensioners, are beneficiaries of the on-going payment of outstanding salaries, pensions and gratuities owed local government workers and pensioners alike by a committee set up by Enugu state Government.

The retirees who left service between 2002 and 2005 were elated because since they left service, the previous administrations could neither pay their gratuities nor their pensions until Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration began the on-going exercise.

Dr. Ben Ezema, the committee chairman and permanent secretary in the State Ministry of Finance, told newsmen that one of the venues for the payment exercise, that about 700 pensioners were paid at Ezeagu local government headquarters, just as 500 received their cheques at Igbo-Eze South council area.

He disclosed that at Nkanu East local government, 400 retirees were paid their gratuities, saying “the exercise continues today at Isi-Uzo local council headquarters, Ikem.

A female pensioner, who identified herself as Mrs. Gladys Okonkwo, retired in 2002, but had since then not been paid, has this to say, “we have never seen any Governor like this. We pray that God will continue to protect him and guide him to continue to help the less-privileged”.

Speaking in same vein, Messrs  linus Ozongwu, Valentine Offor and Paul Okechukwu, who were paid at Ezeagu council headquarters commended the Governor, while also praying for the continued success of his administration.

Narrating his experience since retirement over 10 years ago, Elder Ishiwu said “I retired as a hall Supervisor on grade level 7. I am over 70 years now. I retired in 2005 and since then, I have not received my gratuity until today when this Governor is helping us”.

Like Odenyi Odo and Frederick Odo, pensioners who were also paid their gratuities at Ogbede, Elder Ishiwu, John Asadu and Obeta Cletus literally invoked God to preserve Governor Ugwuanyi whom they described as Governor for the ordinary people of Enugu state.

“Let him continue to be on the seat because he is good in his governance for Enugu State. If I have the powers to let him go four times, I will do that”, stated Elder Ishiwu.

The payment committee chairman explained that approximately N3 billion has been earmarked to take care of this salvage measure by the state government, adding that arrears of pensions and gratuities would gulp N1.9 billion, while arrears of leave allowances owed local council workers across the 17 local government areas of the state will be settled with the sum of N700 million, among others.

He hinted that the council workers have also been collecting their leave bonuses along with the pensioners at the various venues.

President of the Enugu state chapter of the National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE Comrade Ken Ugwueze, himself a member of the committee, told newsmen that “what is happening to local government employees in the state under Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration is a phenomenon in the history of local government service in the state”.

He stated that “we are happy to be union leaders at this point in time when other states are hit by crisis of poor welfare but here, we are inundated with government’s unprecedented goodwill. We shall reward this Governor abundantly at the appropriate time”.

 

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