On Tuesday, the Bayelsa State government denied complicity in Monday’s armed attack against pensioners in Yenagoa protesting five months’ pension arrears owed to them by the present administration.
The protesting pensioners, most of whom were elderly retirees, were ambushed at the gate of the State Government House and attacked with dangerous objects, leaving many of them injured. One pensioner was critically injured and is currently in an undisclosed hospital in the State capital.
But in a statement issued yesterday by Chief Press Secretary Daniel Markson-Iworiso, the State government condemned in strong terms the claims that it hired thugs to disrupt and beat up a group of pensioners who embarked on a peaceful protest to the Government House in Yenagoa.
The statement blamed the latest protests on some misguided politicians who are bent on tarnishing the laudable achievements of the Governor for what is clearly their selfish aims, adding that the government will not give in to cheap blackmail.
Mr. Markson-Iworiso also criticized the frequent use of protest by aggrieved groups in the State, just as the government was meeting with stakeholders to see whether pensioners could be paid.
“The government and representatives of the Nigeria Labor Congress, the Trade Union Congress and other stakeholders have been meeting on the issue of arrears owed pensioners in the State,” the statement reads.
According to the statement, “the government places a very high premium on the payment of pensioners and was doing that diligently until the sharp drop in monthly revenues accruing to the State from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee,” pointing out that, “despite the significant drop in revenue, a committee of notable Bayelsans has been set up to proffer a lasting solution to the problem of pensioners in the State.”