Retired primary school teachers in Delta State have taken to the streets of Asaba, the state capital to protest against the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, over the nonpayment of their gratuities running into N54billion.
The angry retirees, dressed in black and black attires, on Thursday stormed the entrance gate of the state government house, Asaba and barricaded the gate to prevent any entry and exit while chanting solidarity and anti-Okowa songs to drive home their demands.
The protest featured teachers who retired after 35 years of meritorious service to the state and were yet to be paid their gratuities seven years on the line.
The governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, who is currently in Osun State attending a PDP governorship, was lambasted by the retirees as nonchalant about the welfare of the people, civil servants, and specially retired workers.
The protest which lasted for several hours led to a gridlock along Anwai road, Asaba as the retirees sat on the road demanding to see the governor face-to-face to explain why he refused to pay their gratuities.
The protesting retired teachers numbering over 3000, looked pale, while carrying placards with different inscriptions such as “Okowa pay our money, Okowa, pay our money, Okowa”, “Okowa, which is important, your VP ambition or our gratuities.”, “Okowa, wickedness does not pay.”, “Okowa you has less than eight months to go, please pay us our gratuities.”, “Your wickedness has reached God and you will never get that VP come 2023.” among others.
All efforts by security operatives, the police and a detachment of soldiers to disperse the protesters failed as the retirees remained adamant on the road.
Speaking on behalf of the retirees, Mrs. C.E. Ejieh pleaded with the state government to declare a state of emergency in the public primary schools retirees gratuities’ payment and also to ensure that the over N5.9billion owed by some local councils in the state are duly remitted to the bureau of local government that is in charge of the payment.
The leader of the protesting retirees, however lamented that “In spite of repeated promises made during meetings with a delegation of the state government, Governor Okowa bluntly refused to honour his words and has left the retirees in the cold, choosing to pursue a vice presidential ambition.
“In the face of public outcry to the governor to demonstrate a humane sense of leadership on the matter, nothing tangible has been done even when it was clear that the resources to reduce the burden of debt owed the retirees were available to the state government.”
SaharaReporters gathered that as soon as the news of the protest by the retirees got to the governor in Osun State, he called his Chief of Staff, Festus Ovie Agas, on the phone and directed him to address the protesting retirees.
Agas pleaded with the retirees for time with a promise to attend to their demands by way of payment.
The retired teachers had few months ago staged a similar protest to demand for their gratuities but with all promises made during that protest, nothing was done.