It was knocks for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State at weekend as a 75-year-old man, Joseph Ogbele, wept profusely before a crowd of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faithful and leaders over alleged refusal by the state government to settle over 14 months pension arrears owed him.
The incident happened when the PDP governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, took his campaign tour to traders and residents of Aduwawa community in Ikpoba Okha council area of the state.
Mr. Ogbele, who introduced himself to leaders and members of the PDP at the rally, lamented the pains and sufferings of his family since his pension was stopped in 2015 by the state government. He said: “I worked in the state Ministry of Works for 35 years and when I retired, he (Governor Oshiomhole) refused to pay me anything.
My children are suffering. Many of them are out of school because I cannot pay their school fees. We have borrowed money from everywhere and nobody wants to give us again.”
Another pensioner who identified himself as Benson Osagie, and a retired treasurer of Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area at Ugbekun said: “Before the exit of Chief Lucky Igbinedion as governor, he paid me my gratuity and pension and put me on the pension list since August 2000.
I retired in February 2000. My pension was N11,500 in 2000, as I retired on level 13 but with the harmonisation Chief Lucky Igbinedion gave us, my pension is about N26, 000 per month. However, Oshiomhole has refused to pay us.
“Since May 2015, I have not been receiving my pension. It is now about one year and two months. My family is living in penury which the Edo State government has put me by refusing to pay me my pension.”
Osagie accused the state government of insensitivity towards the plight of pensioners, adding: “Many of us are dead. We go for screening and some die. We were hoping this will make him pay us but he has refused to pay.
The two aggrieved pensioners, who pledged their support for Pastor Ize-Iyamu expressed the hope that his government will reverse the ugly situation.