Basking in the euphoria of a regime of regular pension payment instituted by Governor Godwin Obaseki, on assumption of office in 2016, some pensioners in Edo State have reminded workers in the state of the need to re-elect Governor Obaseki in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
Speaking to journalists in Benin City, Pa Ehigie Edowaye, a retiree, said: “If Edo people make the mistake of electing Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the governor of Edo State, we will go back to the era of endless queues and protests over non-payment of pension.
“We have had a taste of Ize-Iyamu’s lack of capacity to better our well-being. While serving as chief of staff and as Secretary to State Government, he couldn’t help our case.”
He added: “Our friends and colleagues were dying in queues during the endless pensioners’ screening exercises called by the then government.
“But Obaseki has changed the face of pension administration in Edo State.
In fact, when I travelled abroad recently, I was screened online via Skype because I couldn’t come to Nigeria for the physical screening exercise. My children abroad were very delighted to see the progress the state was making under Obaseki, and especially for conducting online screening for pensioners that are abroad. They were really impressed.”
Another pensioner, Mrs Florence Akugbe, explained that Pastor Ize-Iyamu was indifferent to pensioners’ plights while serving as chief of staff and secretary to the state government.
She said: “When things became so hard for many of us, we sent some members of our pensioners’ union to visit Pastor Ize-Iyamu and appeal to him to use his good office to speak with the then governor to pay us our pension. Nothing came out of the several meetings.
“We protested severally and in frustration, went to media houses, hoping that the government would listen to our plights and pay us some of the money we were owed. We lost many of our members to hunger and ill-health because some of them had no money to eat or buy their medicines.”
Mrs Akugbe added: “We never knew that any governor would come in the future and solve the seemingly hydra-headed pension problems so easily as Obaseki has done. We were told that Edo State was too poor to pay us our pension, but Obaseki has changed that narrative. Since Obaseki came to power, life has been sweet for us, we are now very proud of our status as pensioners and senior citizens of the state.
“We receive credit alerts every month now, and sometimes we just leave the money in the bank for months to accumulate so that we can do something big with it. We are grateful to Obaseki and I will express my gratitude on September 19 by going out to vote for the governor.”