3 Bayelsa pensioners collapse on verification queue

June 1, 2016, 1:08 pm

Three pensioners on Tuesday collapsed during a pension verification exercise in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state capital.

Jane Aleke, chairperson of the Bayelsa Pensions Board, confirmed the incident to the NAN.

She said the pensioners had been rushed to the Government House Clinic, Yenagoa and were responding to medical treatment.

Aleke said the verification exercise was not meant to inconvenience the retirees but to enable the board to update its data on pensioners in the state.

She appealed for calm among the retirees, assuring them that every pensioner would be captured in the exercise.

“This is about the management of wealth and you know in paying them, the state government cannot just begin to pay with guess work or estimated numbers; we cannot do that as a government,” she said.

“We are ready to reach all the local governments in the state, we have started with Yenagoa; for those of them who are sick and cannot walk, we will definitely go to their houses.”

Some retirees participating in the exercise, which commenced on Monday, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described it as stressful and punitive.

The mostly-aged pensioners said the exercise was frustrating due to the trauma and unnecessary bureaucracy, urging the Bayelsa government to introduce mechanisms for making it stress-free.

Daniel Ogobugha, a retiree, said he was not happy the way the verification was being conducted, saying it would have been better if they were verified and paid their arrears at the same time.

“Yes, we have been here since morning, many of our people have fainted, some critical ones have been rushed to the hospital; the government is helping but this exercise is very stressful to us,” he said.

“Most of us are aged, some can no longer walk but look at us all here for the verification; well, if it is the way to fish out fake pensioners, it is okay.

“But I must tell you that this is not particularly good due to the state of health of some of us. Some of us are being owed for over eight-months, we cannot pay our children’s school fees with the current harsh economy and feeding has become a huge challenge to some families.”

Richard Epiri, another retiree, urged the state government to expedite action at settling their pension arrears.

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