September 23, 2021

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Retired Teachers On Hunger Strike In A’Ibom

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Retired primary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State have embarked on a hunger strike to protest what they describe as vicious insensitivity and oppression by the state government.
The retired said the state government, under Udom Emmanuel, has refused to settle their gratuities, pension arrears and complete payment of gratuities to next of Kins of dead retired teachers.
A 10-point communiqué signed by Felix Ime Cookey and Emmanuel Udoaka, the retired workers lamented their plight since 2010, asking the governor to immediately pay them their entitlements. They condemned the sampled payment style adopted by the present government, saying a situation where their pensions were paid once in every three months, especially when other categories of staff were being paid, was not acceptable.
“It is highly regrettable to see that from 2011 till date, after all documentations and verifications had since been completed by the government, we have not received our gratuities from 2011-2018 and leftovers of 2010.
“Death gratuities to next of kin are still pending. 7.5% compulsory deduction from our salary are still being held. We resolve to go on hunger strike if this government does not pay us our entitlements.
“Whereas all other pensioners including secondary school retirees receive their pensions as at when due, we have not received October, 2019 pensions, as at the time of writing these resolutions.
But the State government says the retired teachers are not entirely correct in their position.
The head of service, Elder Effiong Essien said in a statement that “it is rather unfortunate that the present government inherited a monstrous backlog of uncleared entitlements of workers in the Local Government Service including, salaries, gratuities and pensions arrears, dating back 1991.
“It is on record that, our state Governor, Mr. Udom Gabriel, on assumption of Office in May, 2015, in demonstration of his sincere concern for workers, cleared backlog of gratuities of Local Government staff without promptings from any quarters. Modalities were also worked out to commence the payment of gratuities to other categories of workers through the systematic (batch by batch) payment of backlog of gratuities based on month of completion of documentation by the retirees through the Office of the Accountant General of the state.
Government also took a step further to automate the payroll system. This automation ensures that names of retiring staff on the eve of retirement, becomes inactive on the salary payment platform and active on the pensions payroll. This effort, aside from ensuring automatic graduation from the salary payroll to the pensions payroll, immediate payment of pension also checks the accumulation of arrears and cumbersome documentation by retirees. The Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Akwa Ibom State Council on Monday, December 11, 2017 organized a Grand Reception for His Excellency, the Governor, in appreciation of his kind gesture and sincere concern. The pockets of outstanding arrears of pensions therefore referred to are only those with issues of documentation.
On the refunds of 7.5% Contribution pension and payment of gratuity to next of kins of Primary School Teachers, Government wishes to assure that with the series of interface with the Next of Kins, the issues are receiving adequate attention, through the Office of the Head of Civil Service.
Government wishes to state clearly here that ‘sampled payment,’ as alleged by the group in their position paper, is very alien to the Civil Service and its payment process. Payment of pensions or gratuity and other financial entitlement to staff, serving or retired, as usual, have always been effected on Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Local Governments basis or month of completion of documentation.
On the whole, government appreciates the civil manner with which the affected Retires Primary School Teachers/Next of kin registered their issues and wishes to assure them that the State Governor, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, in his characteristic workers-friendly disposition have the well-being of all workers, including teachers, at heart and is not relenting in ensuring that all their outstanding financial issues are given prompt attention.

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