By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.
Planned protest by pensioners under the Niger State Government was scuttled on Wednesday as the Police and other security agencies in the state promptly intervened ostensibly on the prompting of the state government to avert and forestall shame and bad image to the government.
The pensioners under the pensioners association had planned to stormed the Government House to press home their demands for gratuities and payment of pension arrears but the plan was aborted by the Police at the eleventh hour.
The state Police Command had called the executives of the association of the senior citizens for a meeting hours ahead of the mass protest to the government House and told them to shelve their plan or risk the consequences of their daring actions.
The Police according to sources within the distraught pensioners told our correspondent that the Police had accused the association of being a tool in the hands of an opposition political party in the state, an allegation the pensioners not only refuted but described as laughable and an insult to their age and plights.
The pensioners who have not been paid their entitlements since after their retirement from public service in the state, had after several years of wait and neglect, resolved to carry their grouse to the seat of the state government at the Government House to meet on one on one with the state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello but were told not to dare the might of the state in their own interest.
The leader of the pensioners and a former lecturer with the state College of Nursing School, Minna, Isah N. Aliyu Zhiriko said security agencies in the state led by the Police in the state had forced the members of the association to suspend their planned protest to the Government House.
Isah Aliyu Zhiriko said it was very unfortunate that the state government had instead of addressing the issue of the pensioners, had resorted to blackmail and threats using the security agencies in the state to silent the crying voice of the oppressed.
The leader of the delegation of the pensioners insisted that no political party had influenced them or sponsored them to ask for their rights. He lamented that most senior citizens in the state have become beggers and living on charity following the state government’s refusal to pay them their rightful entitlements.
He said while the pensioners had wanted to see the state Governor and speak to him as fathers and bread winners of their families, some people in the corridors of power had misinformed the state government to use security agencies to stop them from speaking out on their rights.
”No political party was behind us. We are only crying out loud over how the state government has been treating us. We are acting based on our conscience and rights to fight for our dues. We wanted to express our collective displeasure over the failure of the state pension board and the Nigerian Union of Pensioners who have woefully failed to address our plights” he said.
Isah Zhiriko said the association had made several representations to both the state government and the Nigerian Pensioners Union but without any succour even as many of them have been dying from depression, sickness and crushing poverty while government continue to sit on their entitlements.
He pleaded with the state governor to urgently address their plights and rescue them from the fangs of death.