Hope James


Widows and relatives of retired primary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State again, on Tuesday, took to the streets of Uyo, the state capital, to protest unpaid entitlements owed to retired teachers in the state by the state government.

The protesters, who were stopped by the police during their protest march against the government, said many members of theirs had reportedly died as they could not afford medical bills due their unpaid entitlements.

They walked round Willington Bassey Road, leading to the government house, and chanted solidarity songs while displaying a banner with the inscription “Deacon Udom Emmanuel Save Our Soul.”

The group’s Secretary, Mr. Benson Benjamin, while addressing newsmen, confirmed that the State government had released only N1bn out of N33bn since the completion of the verification exercise, saying the amount had not changed as many of them were yet to get anything.

According to him, “Last year the governor said we should conduct a verification exercise, and after the exercise it was discovered that the governor owed over N33bn, and the governor thereafter released a paltry N1bn, which was not enough.”

He alleged that government officials took their pensions and gratuities upfront before leaving office after serving for just eight years, adding that retired primary school teachers who had served for 35 years were yet to receive their entitlements.

He noted that if the governor failed to accede to their demands, they would stage another protest on September 23, which was the state anniversary, to tell the world how they had suffered.

“These people have served for 35 years and they deserve their entitlements. Today, we are telling the governor to take 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 horns 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.

“Things are so expensive; we cannot afford housing. It is the governor’s responsibility to pay the money.”

Also speaking, an official of the group, Mr. Samuel Billy, expressed disappointment over the suffering of the widows in the state.

While stating that the state government had the money to pay, he urged the state to pay them their entitlements to reduce the sufferings of members in the state.