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Oh, what neglect!

Posted by By PETRUS OBI, Enugu on 2008/04/23 | Views: 530 |

Oh, what neglect!


The old faces of the retired workers most of whom are aged were reflection of despondency; most of them looked tired and not sure of what tomorrow would bring. The pensioners had gathered at the Enugu Railway secretariat to protest government insensitivity to the plight of pensioners, especially railway workers.

The old faces of the retired workers most of whom are aged were reflection of despondency; most of them looked tired and not sure of what tomorrow would bring. The pensioners had gathered at the Enugu Railway secretariat to protest government insensitivity to the plight of pensioners, especially railway workers.

The protest was planned to coincide with the pay day for the pensioners. The event which featured a Press conference was yet to commence when one of the pensioners identified as Nsude Achunwa slumped and was taken to hospital.

The wave of sympathy for the pensioners following the collapse Mr Achunwa at the Railways headquarters, Enugu was better witnessed than imagined. The Railway branch chairman of the association, Mr. Dennis Iweanya, would not hold back his resentment for the way government was treating pensioners when he declared in his speech that the Nigerian government has not been fair to pensioners.

Iweanya, who is the Enugu district chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Railway branch, disclosed that, at least, 10,000 pensioners from the Nigerian Railway Corporation had died between December 2003 and December 2007 as a result of hunger and hardship caused by over 25 months arrears of pension owed them by the government.

He attributed the high rate of death among Railway pensioners to lack of money to maintain old age. “It is true that railway pensioners’ take home stipends, especially the pre-1996 retirees is so low to match the present day cost of living; yet government does not find it convenient to honour payment of this lowly paid pension,” he regretted.

Iweanya noted that government is not fair to pensioners in Railway “by owing 25 months arrears to pre-1996 retirees, 18 months to post 1996 retirees and 15 months to 2005 pensioners.”
He noted that government had not, at any time, told the pensioners or the people of Nigeria why pension would not be paid, and why arrears of pension has accumulated, pointing out that the effect of the situation could be seen from “the reduction of pre-1996 pensioners numbering 25, 000 in December 2003 to 14,700 in December 2007.”

Iweanya bemoaned the retrenchment of more than 30, 000 workers between 1984 to 6,000 between 1984 to 2007, stating that the majority of those disengaged had put in 20 to 30 years in service and above 50 years of age, “and besides government liquidation of Railway pension fund in UK from where fund would have been sourced to pay arrears is unwise and catastrophic.”

He attributed the issue of retrenchment to years of military rule, but expressed regrets that since the nascent democracy, the government has not deemed it fit to restore social services destroyed to by soldiers.

They expressed regrets that the government had allowed the Nigerian Railway Corporation to decay in such a manner that it has lost relevance within the transport sector in the country.
The pensioners called on the government to save them from the present trauma they are experiencing and at the same time save the lives of those still living by paying them arrears of their entitlements.

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.