Families and next of kin of retired, late primary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State on Monday, April 26, took to the streets in protest of non-payment of their gratuities and pension by the state government.
They accused the sate government of being insincere in its promise to pay the entitlements, as announced.
The state government had, in a statement last Friday, April 23, promised to commence the payment of gratuities and pensions to the next of kin of the retired primary school teachers on Monday, but did not.
Pained by the unfulfilled promise, the group, ‘Coalition of families, widows/next of kin of late primary school teachers’, carried placards in a peaceful protest to the Government House at Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo, to press home their demands.
Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “We don’t want radio payment again”; “government is not sincere about payment of our gratuities and pension”, among others.
The secretary of the group, Mr. Benjamin Benson, while speaking with journalists shortly after the protest, alleged that government, in a bid to stop the proposed protest, had gone on air to announce commencement of payment today (Monday).
His words, “We embarked on this peaceful protest today because government has failed to keep to its agreement on the payment of gratuities and pensions to both the living and next of kin of retired Primary School teachers. We are here in continued protest to the lingering issue.
“We know that the information that came out on Friday from the state government about commencement of payment was not premeditated.
“We met with the Police and informed them about our planned protest last Thursday and we told them that our demands are simple, that between that Friday and Monday, failure to pay us that money will lead us to embark on a protest.
“And on Friday we got the information that government will commence payment today (Monday), so we knew where that decision was coming from. Everyday they keep saying they are going to commence payment and nothing has been done.
“Today we wanted to sleep here at the gate of the Government House until they pay. But we want to give government the benefit of doubt”.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Staff to the governor, Mr. Ephraim Inyangeyen, who addressed the protesters, pleaded with them and promised that payment can only be guaranteed in the next 48 hours, that is, on Wednesday.