Unpaid tips: Protesting Nigerian pensioners block government house

Niger State pensioners staged a protest against unpaid pensions and gratuities, blockading the seat of Niger State government.

Pensioners who were undeterred by the rain protested from the Union Secretariat to Government House in Minna on Monday.

They held placards with inscriptions, “Non-payment of pension is not acceptable”, “Retiree lives matter”, “No gratuity, no pension, no vote in 2023”, “We occupy until Lolo pays”, and others.

One of the protesters, Ibrahim Mahmud, who spoke with state government secretary Ahmed Matane, said he had lost many pensioners due to lack of funds to offset medical expenses.

He told SSG that the state government was insensitive to the plight of pensioners, adding that they had been let down despite several bailouts and the Paris Club funds the state had received.

“The state received funds from the Paris club and rescue funds and we did not benefit from them. You made some great submissions and expect us to come home and wait. How long would we wait? Your submissions are far from solving our problems, none of our problems have been solved.

“Take your time. We are resolved. We are not going home. We will be at the door until we receive money because the state is not ready to pay us,” said Mahmoud.

He added: “We will no longer accept payment of percentage tips. Our brothers, sisters and parents are dying, we are dying, and we have no money to feed our families, pay rent or take care of ourselves when we are sick.

“The government has abandoned us. We lost two of our retirees this morning because they had no money for treatment.

“Mr. SSG, tell the Governor that our protest will continue until we get a concrete resolution before ending the protest. We have over 10,000 retirees on the ground and we will occupy government house until we are paid.

The SSG denied the government’s knowledge of any retirees who have not received their pension and gratuity, adding that the government is looking for ways to generate funds to address pension issues in the state.

He further assured that the issue of pensions would be resolved before the end of the month.

“There are a lot of anomalies in the state pension system that we are trying to fix. There are phantom pensioners. There are pensioners who are underpaid. There are pensioners who receive more than “They shouldn’t. There are those who have retired but have not received a pension, and there is no adequate data on retirees at the local government level.

“The government is not deliberately hurting pensioners. He does his best within the limits of his available resources. If there is excess money, the government puts it into pensions.

“Please give us time, before the end of this month we will solve your problems,” Matane pleaded.

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