The chairman of the Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri, has criticized the former governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, for his inability to pay pensioners during his term of office.
Ohiri described the failure of Ocoroch to compensate pensioners, despite the enormous resources at his disposal, as shameful and frustrating.
This is what the traditional ruler said while addressing journalists in his palace in Owerri, the state capital, over the weekend.
He regretted that Okorocha had only played politics with the well-being of the pensioners under his tenure.
According to Ohiri, the Okorocha-led government carried out “unending testing activities” that had never produced any results.
He said: “Maybe, the government of Okorocha may have used unending validation activities to sabotage the compensation of pensioners in the country.
“Before this present administration, there were series of unending verification exercises of pensioners in the state and for me, I felt like the government was kind of playing games with our senior citizens and that wasn’t right.
“At every opportunity, I made it known to the governor and the government that they needed to take care of our senior citizens, but nothing came out of it.”
He, however, commended Governor Emeka Ihedioha for commencing the payment of pensioners.
He said: “I want to thank God Almighty that finally something is being done through Governor Emeka Ihedioha. I have to say that in honesty and sincerity, I am happy that at this point that our pensioners are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.
“I also commend the process, because it is not just paying them, it requires some planning. First of all, we need to understand and to know how many pensioners we have in the state and truly and accurately how much is due to each of them. And such planning and well thought out process was what I felt was lacking in the previous administration in the state.
“Also, before now, some of the problems that we had or some of the complaints I received as the chairman of council of traditional rulers from these pensioners include that every month the government can decide to pay them arbitrary figures.
“Somebody that was supposed to get N70, 000 or N60, 000 was paid N13, 000 or N15, 000. And nobody knew how government arrived at those figures. And they couldn’t go to anybody to get answers to those questions.
“But now I thank God that the government has begun payment to them 100 per cent. So, I want to say that I have good faith in the exercise that has just been concluded and I believe it was sincere, honest and reliable.”