A group of professionals, under the aegis of Uyo Senatorial District Media Practitioners Forum, has frown at smear campaigns by certain persons against the Governor of Akwa Ibom State on allegations of non payment of entitlements to retired workers in the state.
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They have described the smear campaigners as purveyors of falsehood out to tarnish the Governor’s efforts, despite the huge revenue channelled by the administration to settle former civil servants on the state.
The group, in a press statement endorsed by its Chairman Elder Ofonime Isong and made available to journalists in Uyo, the state capital, on Wednesday stated: “The Forum wishes to state categorically that in Akwa Ibom State, workers and pensioners get their monies every month, even before the allocation from the federation account gets to the state.
“This can be buttressed by available records which show that since assumption of office, Governor Udom Emmanuel has released and paid over N20 billion as gratuity to retirees. Though there are some persons who haven’t receive theirs yet, a greater percentage from records, have been duly paid.”
According to the Group: “What is more disturbing about this group is that they have elected to sacrifice the collective interest of the state on the altar of destructive politics and selfish interest. Thus, it is more endangering to the state when actions capable of causing disunity come from people who are the beneficiaries of the magnanimous gestures of government.”
They posited that it is impossible for a governor who places high premium on retirees since assumption of office in 2015 to suddenly become their enemy.
“This line of thoughts questions the authenticity of the protest, because ‘authentic retirees’ have adequate information on the state of pensions in the state.”
Checks by the forum indicates that the protest by imaginary retirees in the State was sponsored by agents of mischief with the sole aim of forestalling the recent signing of a deal for the purchase of new Airbuses for the state airline in Dubai.
What this implies is that it was a politically- motivated protest aimed at jeopardizing the efforts of the Governor at bringing development to the state.
According to the statement, “It was an obscurantist art, designed to confer on the Governor a bad reputation in order of dissuade Foreign Direct Investments from coming into Akwa Ibom”.
The group maintained that in Akwa Ibom State, workers and pensioners get their monies every month, even before the allocation from the federation account gets to the state. “This can buttressed by available records which show that since assumption of office, Gov. Udom Emmanuel has released and paid over N20 billion as gratuity to retirees”.
“It’s impossible for a governor who places high premium on retirees since assumption of office in 2015 to suddenly become their enemy. This line of thought questions the authenticity of the protest, because “authentic retirees” have adequate information on the state of pensions in the state. The Forum therefore argues that the protest was not harbingered by retirees in the state, but by miscreant elements and impostors who are bitter about the increasing accolades poured on Governor Udom Emmanuel by more and more organisations and leaders in Nigeria. The doctored messages they displayed on placards testify to the above.
To this end, it must be noted that payment of gratuity is just a tiny fraction of the fiscal responsibilities of Government. It is certainly not her only responsibility. Despite this fact, we have seen the determined efforts the State Government has put-in to ameliorate the plight of retirees as far back as 25 years ago. Thus, we in Uyo Senatorial District Media Practitioners Forum hereby advise the public to to discountenance the activities of these conflict contractors whose mischief is mainly to paint the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel in bad light through sponsored Protests.As a peace loving Governor with a listening ear to the senior citizens and people from all walks of life, there is no doubt that the Governor will do his best to ensure that those who sacrificed their productive years in the service of humanity are adequately remunerated”.
“We caution the public to vigilant at this point to in order to be able to dictate fraudulent deceptions, especially, as the state gets into the era transition politics and electioneering. We also urge desperate politicians and fifth -columnists to desist from degenerative actions aimed at discrediting the administration of Governor Emmanuel who has garnered unprecedented goodwill from the people through the Completion Agenda”.
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