By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State Government has denounced the protest staged on Monday in Uyo by a section of the retired teachers in the state under the aegis of the Coalition of Widows/Next of Kin of late primary school teachers.
The group had alleged the non-payment of backlog of pensions and gratuities owed to the affected former teachers in the state, despite repeated cries and demands to government to pay the money.
But the Head of Service, Elder Effiong Essien who condemned the Monday’s protest said that government has begun the payment of the pension and gratuities to the retired primary school teachers and their next of kin same day while the protest was on going as earlier promised.
Speaking to some newsmen on Wednesday in Uyo, Effiong said that the payment will be carried out in batches, adding that the retired workers concerned have started receiving alerts.
He explained that the process would continue throughout the week, noting that the government may stage a public show of the payment to convince ‘doubting Thomases’ that it is sincere with its promises.
He stated that the payment which spanned four decades showed that the government was not only humane but that Governor Udom Emmanuel was workers friendly.
“It was published wide that the payment of the backlog of gratuities have been left behind by previous administrations in the state, apart from 1976 and 1988 for retired primary school teachers and next of kin, that the payment would start on Monday.
“Everything has been put in place for the payment to start and they went to the street as if they didn’t hear the news or publication of the payment.
“Actually, the payment started on Monday and it continues today. Many of those who have been selected for the payment to start with, have received alert, and if everything is put together, for the doubting thomss, before the week is over, we would put a public show of the payment.
“The administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel is very sensitive to the needs and situations of the people of the state especially the workers. The Governor is workers’ friendly and ensures salaries are paid, as at when due.
“Last year, he even paid when workers were at home during the COVID-19. He pays pension also to pensioners and he pays salary. The backlog has been there for over decades. 1976 -1986, one decade; 1986 -1996, two decades; 1996 -2006, three decades; almost getting to four decades.
“Everytime they protesters come out, we keep on assuring them that we are putting things in place. The protesters are not even the workers that government employed but their next of kin.
“Government cannot take up a huge financial involvement of that entitlement, but government has the good will to continue the payment, as funds are available, a batch would be taken.
“When there is that consistency, before you know it, government would have gone very far clearing that backlog. After all, His Excellency cleared ten years backlog of pensions since he came into office, and he is ready to do sometime like that with the gratuities,” he stated.