By; SANI ALIYU, Zaria
Some sacked workers from Kaduna State Civil Service have staged a peaceful protest in Zaria, demanding payment of their entitlements from Sigma Pension and Leadway Pension administration.
The protesters in their hundreds converged on the Emir of Zazzau’s Palace and later proceeded to the two pension offices located at United Bank for Africa (UBA) building on Kaduna Road, PZ, Zaria.
Their protest was as a result of comments credited to Gov. Nasir el-Rufa’i of Kaduna State whom severally during a monthly media chat, said his government had approved and released the entitlements of the sacked workers.
Speaking to journalists on the sideline of the protest, the Chairman, Sacked Workers Association, Zaria Local Government, Malam Salisu Ibrahim-Mahmud said they were compelled to take such action to press for their demands.
“We have decided to embark on this kind of action to press home our demands from our Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs).
“This is because, Gov. Nasir el-Ruf’i during the media chat announced that government has already released the entitlements of all sacked workers to their PFAs.
“This is not the first time the governor is making such a statement, there was a similar case during the month of Ramadan and we went and met the Sigma Pension but they argued that no money was sent to them,” he said.
According to him, the union then communicated with their members in Kaduna central to confirm from the Sigma office in Kaduna but the story remained the same.
He said apart from that, government was owing some workers salary arrears of six to 12 months before they were subsequently sacked.
“Up to this time, government had neither paid the salary arrears nor the gratuity. How do they want us to survive? Remember, we have wives, children and other dependents who solely rely on us for a living.”
The chairman assured that the sacked workers have exhausted all avenues, including letters to relevant offices, follow-ups and lobbying all to no avail.
“Apart from all these processes, we also channelled our grievances through different distinguished personalities in Kaduna State, yet, our entitlement is still pending.
“During the broadcast, the governor assured that any dis-engaged worker that reached the age of 45 years should go and claim his entitlement at his PFA office and most of us here are more than 50 years.
“The governor announced this not once not twice that he had settled us but the PFAs refused to come out publicly on the media to debunk his pronouncement,” he noted.
Addressing the protesters in his office, the Zonal Coordinator, Sigma Pension, Zaria, Malam Isma’il Abbas urged them to be calm and exercise some little patience, assuring that the problem was not from the company.
He used his cell phone to call the head of Kaduna office for more clarification.
The head of Kaduna Office, Abdulqadir Ibrahim advised the sacked workers to confirm from the Commissioner of Finance and office the State Accountant General whether such payment was released to them.
“I want you people to come to Kaduna and find out from the Finance Commissioner yourselves as well as the Accountant General so that you will have conviction that the money is not yet release to us.”
On their part, the officer in charge of Zaria office of Leadway Pension, Malam Suleiman directed the sacked workers to channel their complain to Kaduna office for proper response.
The affected workers include sacked local government workers and primary school teachers whom were affected by the 2017 rationalisation exercise in Kaduna State.