Akwa Ibom State Government says it has started the payment of forty year old pension and gratuities of retired primary school teachers and their next of kin.
Head of the state’s Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien disclosed this on Thursday, at a parley with journalists in his office in Uyo, the state capital.
On Monday, a peaceful protest was staged by the affected retirees and the next of kin of the deceased ones, where they accused the state government of paying lip services to their plight and only good at making ‘radio payment.’
But the Head of Service said the group who embarked on the protest couldn’t wait till the end of the day to ascertain if the state government would make the payment or not.
He however promised to make a public show of the payment to prove to the people that the government was not joking over the welfare of the retirees, adding that, the payment started on Monday, April 19, as promised.
Essien informed that the process would continue throughout the week, and explained that the payment which spanned four decades showed that the government was not only humane but that Governor Udom Emmanuel is workers’ friendly.
His words: “It was published wide that the payment of the backlog of gratuities have been left behind by previous government and administration in the state, apart from 1976 and 1988 for retired primary school teachers and next of kin, that the payment would start on Monday.
“Actually, the payment started on Monday and it continues today. Many of those who have been selected for the payment to start with, have received alert, and if everything is put together, for the doubting Thomases, before the week is over, we would put a public show of the payment.
“The administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel is very sensitive to the need and situations of the people of the state especially the workers. The Governor is workers friendly and ensures salaries are paid, as at when due.
“Last year, he even paid when workers were at home during the COVID-19. He pays pension also to pensioners and he pays salary. The backlog has been there for over decades. 1976 -1986, one decade; 1986 -1996, two decades; 1996 -2006, three decades; almost getting to four decades.
“Everytime they protesters come out, we keep on assuring them that we are putting things in place. The protesters are not even the workers that government employed but their next of kin.
“Government cannot take up a huge financial involvement of that entitlement, but government has the good will to continue the payment, as funds are available, a batch would be taken.
“When there is that consistency, before you know it, government would have gone very far clearing that backlog. After all, His Excellency cleared ten years backlog of pensions since he came into office, and he is ready to do sometime like that with the gratuities”.