As retirees occupied the city center to protest the non-payment of their pensions since they retired from active service, the Ring Road, a popular shortcut to the center of Benin, was overtaken by heavy traffic.
The elderly people, who were all dressed in black, claimed that since Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s previous administration ceased paying out gratuities in 2012, the current one has not kept up with it. From 1998 through 2012, when he left office in 2016, the Oshiomhole administration began paying out gratuities.
Amadin Okoro, who was speaking on behalf of the demonstrators, stated, “We are resentful; many of us are dying. Many of us are ill, and many of them need operations but lack the funds. Local government pensioners are owed their gratuities as well as arrears since 2008. However, the state has not received payment since 2012 to this day.
“Our appeal to the governor is that he should pay us so that we can enjoy the fruits of our labour, which we suffered for 35 years. In fairness, we receive our pensions monthly but the crux of the matter is our gratuity.”
Another protester, Esther Ehigie said she retired in 2012 and that they were screened and invited to a meeting in 2017 where the authority for payment which is called yellow paper was collected from them but their money was not paid.
Reacting to the development, the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare said the government of Governor Godwin Obaseki has been paying the gratuities of all those who have retired since he became governor and that provision has already been made to clear the backlog.
He said: “We have gone very far to tackle the backlog, we made promises to the pensioners that they we will pay their arrears which we have done, we made promise that they will get their pensions as at when due, that we have done, the third leg of that is to clear the gratuity arrears, which is a huge sum of money, we have a plan in place which is coming to fruition, in the 2023 budget, we made provision to clear some of these gratuities and those pensioners have been put in batches so that they can be paid and very soon this will be affected. We implore our pensioners to exercise more patience and restraint while the issues are being sorted out.”