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Widows of retired primary school teachers protest over unpaid entitlements in Akwa Ibom

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Adeleye Kunle

Widows and next of kin of retired primary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State staged a peaceful protest on Tuesday near Government House in Uyo over unpaid entitlements by the state government.

Protesters held banners that read, among other things, “Deacon Udom Emmanuel Save Our Soul (SOS), The Agonies of Widows/Next of Kin of Primary School Teachers in Akwa Ibom State.”

They also urged the governor to make available funds for the payment of unpaid pensions and gratuities owed to living teachers from 2011 to 2018.

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They also demanded a 7.5% pension contribution refund and pension harmonisation.

However, while addressing the protesters, the union’s secretary, Mr Benson Benjamin, expressed regret that the state government had only paid N1 billion, which he described as a “paltry” sum.

“Last year, the governor said we should conduct a verification exercise, and after the exercise, it was discovered that the governor was owing over N33billion, and the governor then released a paltry N1billion, which was insufficient,” he said.

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He also claimed that government officials take their pensions and gratuities in advance before leaving office after only eight years, and he wondered why retired primary school teachers who had served 35 years would be denied their entitlements.

He stated that if the governor does not agree to their demands, they will hold another protest on September 23, the state anniversary, to tell the world how they have suffered.

“These people have served for 35 years and deserve their entitlements, and today we are telling the governor to take responsibility and pay these people their entitlements, and we ask him to come and do the needful,” he said.

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“Our members are dying by the day, and they are unable to receive medical treatment.” We demand that the government seize the bull by the horns and pay the entitlements.

“The government should do the right thing; if we return today without a positive response, we will return on September 23 to press our demands further, and you know what that means because we need that money.”

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