Cross River Pensioners Groan As Hundreds Turn Out For Verification Exercise In North Senatorial District

Oct 22, 2023 - 08:28
Oct 22, 2023 - 09:27
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Cross River Pensioners Groan As Hundreds Turn Out For Verification Exercise In North Senatorial District

By Atim MGBE (Ogoja Bureau)

As state, local government pensioners and serving civil/public servants converge for verification in Cross River north senatorial zone, hundreds of pensioners have raised alarm over shoot treatment meted out to them by the organizers.

The pensioners expressed fears that the exercise as usual may not achieve results due to poor planing.

The exercise, which began simultaneously on Monday, October,16 for retirees and state workers in Cross River North, has continued to witness large turnout at Ogoja and Obudu centres. 

A public service notice  dated October 11, 2023 and signed by the new Head of Service, Innocent Eteng,  Pd.D, mandated  staff of local government councils, State Universal Basic Education Board(SUBEB), health workers under the Primary HealthCare development Agency,
Nurses, state and local government pensioners in the five local government areas of Cross River north to appear for verification and image capture 
Between Monday,16th October 16 and Saturday, October 21, 2023.

The notice directed those in Ogoja, Yala and Bekwarra to assemble at Ogoja local government Secretariat for the verification, while  Obudu local government serves as venue for Obudu and Obaliku.

 The exercise according to Eteng is targeted at achieving a verified payroll of staff employed by the state government and to eliminate ghost pensioners and workers.

However those attending the exercise are apprehensive of government's ability to achieve the expected outcome citing the lack of proper planning and added that the exercise may not be different from previous ones.

They observed that unless government takes a bold step to fish  out the syndicates behind inflated wages, the question of ghost names on the state payroll will persist.

They lamented that they have been reporting for the exercise since it began on Monday, October 16 and the organizers are no where to be found neither are the schedules released to know what steps pensioners should take in the process. 

A retiree from Bekwarra LGA, Linus Ogar Eneji, brought on a wheelchair, said he had been reporting every day for the exercise without being attended to due to the large crowd.

Eneji, who retired from the ministry of education in 2007, claimed that the the present verification was not properly planned.

"Since I have been attending verification exercises from 2007, I have not seen where people were lumped together everyday for screening.

"I expected them to allocate one week for each local government area if they want to do the proper thing". 

Also narrating his ordeal, a visually impaired retiree, with partial stroke from Ogoja, Jacob Okache, said it was proper for government to conduct periodic verification to streamline the wage bill, but queried the  organizers for failure to spell out the days for the respective local government areas, adding that bringing retirees together with  those still in service could defeat the objective of the exercise.

"Unless they adjust and come out with a clear table for each LGA, the category of personnel to be attended to, the aim may be defeated.

"As you can see, I cannot even navigate my way due to my condition, yet I have been here every day without attention.

When The Beagle News visited the Ogoja local secretarait, venue for the screening for Ogoja, Bekwarra and Yala LGAs, it was observed that hundreds of people who could not afford transport going home and coming on daily basis decided to spend the nights on corridors and unlocked offices of the council.

A serving health worker from North Ukelle in Yala LGA, who preferred anonymity, said he and many others from Wanihem and other poorly assessible distant terrains could not afford going and returning to Ogoja daily on basis due to biting economic situation and opined that government would have decentalised the exercise.

"Next time they should  consider the difficult terrain some of us come from and creat centres where we can easily be atten