Widows and next of kins of retired primary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State, on Tuesday, staged a peaceful protest along Wellington Bassey Way, close to Government House, Uyo, over unpaid entitlements by the state government.
The protesters displayed banners with inscriptions such as “Deacon Udom Emmanuel Save Our Soul (SOS), The Agonies of Widows/Next of Kin of Primary School Teachers in Akwa Ibom State,” among others.
They also urged the governor to release funds for payment of unpaid pensions and gratuities of living teachers from 2011- 2018.
They also called for the refund of 7.5% pension contribution as well as harmonisation of pensions.
However, the secretary of the union, Mr Benson Benjamin, while addressing the protesters, regretted that out of the N33billion the state government owes them, it only paid N1billion which according to him was only a ‘paltry’ sum.
According to him, “Last year, the governor said we should conduct a verification exercise, and after the exercise, it was discovered that the governor was owing over N33billion and the governor thereafter released a paltry N1billion, which was not enough.”
He further alleged that government officials take their pensions and gratuities upfront before leaving office after serving for just eight years wondering why retired primary school teachers who have served 35 years would be deprived of their entitlements.
He noted that if the governor fails to accede to their demands, they would stage another protest on September 23 which is the state anniversary to tell the world how they have suffered.
His words: “These people have served for 35 years and they deserve their entitlements and today we are telling the governor to take the responsibility and pay these people their entitlements, we ask him to come and do the needful.
“Our members are dying by the day, our members cannot go for their medical treatments. We urge the government to take the bull by the horn and pay the entitlements.
“The government should do the needful, if we go back today without a positive response, we will come back on September 23, to press further our demands and you know what that means because we need that money