A delegation of pensioners of Enugu State, who have benefitted from the monthly N100 million approved by the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for payment of arrears of gratuities from May 2018, on Wednesday paid a thank-you visit to the governor "for rescuing them in their time of need".
The beneficiaries, who described gratuity as "the life-wire of every retiree", in an address presented by the State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Damian Udeani, praised God for using Governor Ugwuanyi to perform a miracle in their lives.
They said they could not thank the governor enough for reviving the payment of gratuities in Enugu State, disclosing that "over the years, before Your Excellency came on board, pensioners have been denied this life rejuvenating benefit".
According to them, "many pensioners have passed on without getting it. But now, Your Excellency has gladdened the hearts of pensioners in Enugu State with the revival of payment of gratuities".
Reiterating their firm support for Governor Ugwuanyi's re-election, the jubilant pensioners also appreciated the governor for paying their pensions as and when due, saying, "We, our families and our friends will pray and do our part to see that you continue in office".
The retirees, who pointed out that they never lobbied before receiving the gratuities, applauded the governor for the success of the exercise, which they attributed to "your order of non-interference in the committee's job of disbursement of the monthly released N100 million to the appropriate beneficiaries".
According to the address presented by the State Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria, Igbokwe Chukwuma Igbokwe, on behalf of the committee supervising the payment of the fund, more than 600 retirees have been paid their gratuity amounting to over N700 million, while outstanding gratuities from January 2009 to March 2010 have so far been cleared.
The committee explained that before the governor's approval, "arrears of gratuities and revalidation amounted to N16,123, 841, 779.80", adding that "this amount covers retirees from January 2009 to May 2018".
"The beauty of this exercise is that it is devoid of manipulation from any quarters, not even from His Excellency. Most of the beneficiaries were called unexpectedly to come and pick their cheques while others on routine check saw their names published for payment on the notice board of their Sub Treasury. They could not believe that they could be paid their gratuity without lobbying anybody for it.
"Your Excellency, the beneficiaries of this your benevolence have returned like the biblical one leper to say THANK YOU for wiping their tears and bringing succour to them and their families when they least expected it," the committee stated.
One of the beneficiaries, Benjamin Ejibe, expressed joy and gratitude to Governor Ugwuanyi for rescuing him from his suffering, saying that he was in a hospital when "I received a call that my name was among those to be paid their gratuity".
In her speech, the Chairman of Association of Retired Permanent Secretaries, Vivian Eze, told the governor that "it has never been so before until you came into office", pointing out that all pressure of school fees, hospital bills, rents and others, on them had reduced since May last year.