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Pensioners demonstrating in Owerri

Okorocha driving pensioners to penury

There were demonstrations across the Owerri, the Imo State capital yesterday, by pensioners angry at attempts by Governor Rochas Okorocha to shortchange them of arrears of pension owed.

A source in Owerri informed that the pensioners “blocked everywhere” in the city.

The state government is said to owe many of them for up to 22 months. Despite receiving recently billions of naira in Paris Club debt over-deduction refunds from the federal government, Okorocha schemed his way out of paying the pensioners their full arrears.

He is alleged to have written to all pensioners requesting that they sign an agreement to give up claims to the full amounts owed. So one Owerri-based retired civil servant, who is owed for 22 months, received a letter informing her that nine months pay had been cut from what was owed and she was going to receive 40% of the remaining 13 months pension. The pensioner, who expected arrears of up to 1.5m naira ($4,770), received just 120,000 naira ($381) today. She believed that Okorocha was forced to pay up due to the demonstrations yesterday.

Another Owerri source claimed that while Okorocha’s forced agreement with the pensioners indicates that they received reduced arrears, the state’s accounts were showing that the pensioners were paid in full. The source believed that the governor had pocketed the difference.

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