From: Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Former Benue State Governor and Senator representing Benue North East District Sen. Gabriel Suswam, has faulted the approach by the State government in handling the issue of payment of pension and gratuities.
Sen. Suswam who expressed his sympathy to the protesting pensioners on their plight yesterday at Government House while speaking with newsmen, decried the manner aides of Governorship Ortom managed the situation.
He said a proactive action should have been taken to nip the ugly situation in the bud, recalling that he also, faced the same issue as Governor.
“I met a backlog of pension and gratuity arrears as governor though the scenarios are different. Pension issues are a national problem. Even the Federal government is having problems with it. If the Governor’s lieutenants are unable to handle it, then I should help out as a representative of the people. The approach may be wrong, but it is sad that the issue is being politicized. Outside forces are trying to cash in but we should not portray the State’s image in bad light”, Sen. Suswam said.
Earlier, while addressing the pensioners, the erstwhile Governor who described the situation as ‘unpalatable’, said his heart bleeds to see elders, grandparents sleeping in the rain, stating that the matter calls for urgent solution.
“I can imagine how you are faring. This is not how to deal with an issue. We cannot sleep when you are not sleeping. I do not say that the Governor is right. You people voted me out on the issue of salary, now the Governor whom you people know how we fought but today we are together. And I want to take up the matter personally.
“So, I passionately appeal to you to give me a chance. I and other senators, Abba Moro and Orker Jev will meet with your leadership to resolve this issue. So, I ask you to respect me as a former governor and go home, we will meet with you on Monday next week”, he appealed passionately.
In spite of his persistent and passionate plea, Chairman Benue Concerned Pensioners Peter Ikyado insisted that they will not leave the Government House until six (6) months of their pension and gratuity is paid.