The United kingdom chapter of the Imo State Union at the weekend called on Governor Rochas Okorocha, to reverse his inhumane treatment of the state pensioners.
The chapter said it had taken note of the coercive actions of the government in making the state pensioners to forfeit 60 percent of their legitimate retirement pensions to the government.
In a press release entitled: “A worker deserves his or her wages,” and signed by its president, Chucks Ogbonna and the political secretary, Austin Kekeocha, the group said: “We condemn this action as it is cruel and hard-hearted, given that pensioners are very vulnerable persons in our society and already suffering from one of the harshest economic recessions in the country.”
It stated further: “Imo State is not the only State facing financial challenges in the country and we note that none has taken such a draconian action as Imo State. Therefore, for the Governor to appropriate the pensions -of the old, sick, disabled and all other persons who worked tirelessly in their prime to make Imo State great – for other causes is simply callous and a great disservice to our senior citizens.
“We wish to remind the Governor that pension is wages already worked for. So, it is therefore both illegal and immoral to deny beneficiaries of their rightful entitlements. Coercing them to sign away their rights is even more odious and we are appealing to the Governor to reconsider his stand.”
The statement continued: “On a practical level, Imo State pensioners have suffered very horrendous experiences. Many have at different times fainted, while queuing under the scorching sun and some have even died in penury whilst waiting to get their entitlements. Moreover, a good number of them have now turned to begging to survive, because they can not get the money that is legally due to them from their state government.”
Sadly, “some others have actually died in auto accidents on their way to Owerri to beg the government for the money they legitimately earned.”
Continuing, the union said: “We also wish to point out that the action of the Imo State Government is baffling, considering that the overwhelming majority of these vulnerable pensioners stood solidly behind Governor Rochas Okorocha, during his CHANGE Campaign.”
It queried: “Is this the price they should be paying for that support? Has the government’s callous neglect and humiliation not (been) enough?”
According to the group, “it is even more disturbing that the Imo State House of Assembly, who are equally the representatives of the people, has not seen it fit to raise an outcry over such unacceptable actions of the Executive arm of Government.”
Quoting from the bible to support their stance , the union called on :”the Imo State Government led by Owelle Rochas Okorocha, to urgently rescind this illegal and morally reprehensible action and revert back to paying these pensioners their full entitlements. Remember that we are an overwhelmingly Christian State and the Bible says that every worker deserves his/her pay.”