The Rivers State Government has assured pensioners of getting their gratuities and pensions as soon as computation of their entitlements is over.
The Director-General, Rivers State Pensions Board, Mr Ijeoma Samuel, gave the assurance on Wednesday when some state pensioners staged a peaceful walk to the Government House, Port Harcourt to demand the payment of their retirement benefits.
He said payment of gratuities and pension was in the priority list of the state government.
He said, ‘’ Let me assure all of us that this battle is going to be won on our knees. We have shown them evidence of what the pension board and the PS (Permanent Secretary), Pension is doing towards everything we have gathered here, this morning.
“Everything that government is owing, in terms of unpaid arrears, in terms of pensions, gratuity, death benefit, we have computed all of them. We did not compute them because we’re envisaging that you are going to gather like this, but we computed them because we know we have special responsibility to take care of all pensioners in the state’’.
The Coordinator of the aggrieved pensioners, Mr Lucky Ati, had earlier appealed to the state government to expedite actions on the payment of retirees’ benefits.
Ati noted with displeasure that the non payment of pensions in the state has been a source of worry to the pensioners for too long.
He said the group of pensioners decided to embark on‘ the peaceful walk to press home their demands, given that all previous efforts had failed to yield positive results.
According to him,’’ the very first set of Biometrics was for 864 pensioners and they are already on pay-roll. There was another set of Biometrics in July this year in which over 3,000 persons were done. Those persons are still not on the pay-roll up till today.’’
Ati lamented that there were retirees who were being owed at various levels, saying, ‘’ There are people in this state that retired and were paid part of the gratuity there are people that retired in this state that have not been paid their gratuity at all, there are people that retired in this state that are not even on monthly pension’’.
He appealed to the state government to address the plight of the elder statesmen and save them from untold hardship and untimely death.
Border Closure: ECOWAS Sets Up Committee To Investigate Nigeria
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has set up a committee to study and make full report on Nigeria’s land border closure with her neighbours.
The ECOWAS Heads of States and Governments agreed on the decision to set up a committee last Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at an extraordinary session of ECOWAS leaders convened on the margins of the 33rd AU Summit to discuss the issue and other pressing regional matters.
The committee is headed by President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu confirmed in a statement in Abuja on Monday that Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama told journalists after a three-hour closed-door session that the meeting was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari and chaired by the ECOWAS Chairman, President Mohamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic.
Onyeama said, “The President of Burkina Faso is charged with undertaking a full study of the situation, make a report and then we take it from there”.
On when the report will be presented to ECOWAS Heads of States and Governments, the minister said, “as soon as possible, there are no timelines. But he is supposed to start very quickly, study the situations from all the affected countries and present his reports”.
The statement also explained that the meeting discussed West Africa’s new single currency (Eco) and the situation in Gunnea Bissau after the presidential election.
On the Eco currency, the foreign minister said, “Nothing has changed in respect of Nigeria’s position.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
One Billion Oil Barrels Found In North-East – FG
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva said on Wednesday that the nation’s oil and gas sector has worsened as the uncertain fiscal environment put a damper on investment.
The minister also disclosed that about a billion barrels of crude oil have been discovered in the North East of the country, adding that a lot of resources remained undiscovered in the country.
Sylva, who said these at a press briefing during the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit 2020 in Abuja, lamented that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill had been delayed for many years.
He, however, warned that most of the resources might have to be left in the ground if not explored and produced before the world moves away from oil.
Sylva said, “From the evaluation report we are getting, the reserves that has been discovered in the North East is about a billion barrels. And they are beginning to understand the geological structure of that area.
“If there is a lot of exploration, we believe that a lot of oil still remains to be found in Nigeria. Nigeria is not yet a mature territory; it is still very prolific.”
He expressed optimism that the PIB would be passed in six months as “there is a very cordial relationship now between the legislature and the executive.”
He said, “today Nigerians all agree that there is a need for us to pass the PIB. For so long, we have not been able to attract a lot of investment into the oil sector. By the year 2002, our oil reserves stood at around 22 billion barrels, and we were able to grow that reserves to 37 billion barrels by 2007.
“From 2007 to now, we have only been able to grow our reserves from 37 billion barrels to 37.5 billion barrels. Why? Not much investment is coming into Nigeria.”
The minister said, “I actually say we have retrogressed because some time ago, this country was producing up to 2.6 million barrels a day. And I remember a long time ago, we actually targeted that we would be producing three million barrels and by now we should have been producing up to four million barrels a day.”
The minister noted that the country’s gas reserves of 200 trillion cubic feet was found during the search for oil.
We Need Govt’s Support To Survive – Rivers Farmers
Some farmers in Rivers State have urged government at all levels to empower the local farmers, so as to increase farm produce and also generate employment for the citizenry.
The Manager of Iyako Nigerian Enterprise (a fishing firm), Mr Iyalla Ogan said the local farmers need to be assisted with grants by the government.
Ogan said that giving grants to farmers would solve many problems relating to the farming process and also generate employment for many Nigerians.
He said, “I need ocean going vessels that would catch fish in commercial quantity. This would definitely increase export and benefit the state and nation through employment generation and increase in revenue.
“Government should be supportive to farmers and not paying lip services which they never fulfill at any time”.
Ogan called on his fellow farmers to persevere and always look out for opportunities to establish their dreams, saying that “this is the only way satisfaction can come”.
Another farmer, Mrs Tonia Chukwu, who has a poultry farm at Iwofe, Rumuolumini, said that finance has been her problem over the years, lamenting that “lack of finance is responsible for lack of expansion in my firm”.
She said that elected leaders should have the interest of the electorate at heart, noting that selfishness on the part of political leaders has done more harm than good.
Meanwhile, another farmer, Mr Jonathan Amadi told The Tide that the way farmers in the South-South are treated, is different from the way Northern leaders treat their own farmers.
He called on the government to “provide modern equipment to southern farmers as they do in the North to give us a sense of belonging and help us to increase and expand like others.
“If we produce in quantity, everybody would benefit, ranging from us, the masses and government”.
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