Hundreds of workers sacked by the Governor of Kaduna State have staged a peaceful protest in Zaria, they are demanding the payment of their entitlements from Sigma Pension and Leadway Pension administrators.
The protesters began the protest at the Emir of Zazzau’s Palace and proceeded to the two pension offices located at United Bank for Africa (UBA) building on Kaduna Road, PZ, Zaria.
Their protest may not be unconnected with comments allegedly credited to Governor El-Rufai, who severally during a monthly media chat, insisted that his government had approved and released the entitlements of the sacked workers.
Speaking to journalists on the sideline of the protest, the Chairman, Sacked Workers Association, Zaria local government, Malam Salisu Ibrahim-Mahmud, said they were compelled to take such action to press home their demands.
He said, “We have decided to embark on this kind of action to press home our demands from our Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs).
“This is because Gov. Nasir el-Rufa’i during the media chat announced that government has already released the entitlements of all sacked workers to their PFAs.
“This is not the first time the governor is making such statement, there was a similar case during the month of Ramadan and we went and met the Sigma Pension but they argued that no money was sent to them,” he explained.
According to Malam Salisu, the union communicated with their members in Kaduna central to confirm from the Sigma office in Kaduna but the story remained the same.
He said asides that, the government was owing to some workers salary arrears of six to 12 months before they were relieved of their duties.
“Up to this time, the government had neither paid the salary arrears nor the gratuity. How do they want us to survive? Remember, we have wives, children and other dependents who solely rely on us for a living,” he added.
Malam Salisu disclosed that the sacked workers have exhausted all avenues, including letters to relevant offices, follow-ups and lobbying all to no avail.
“Apart from all these processes, we also channeled our grievances through different distinguished personalities in Kaduna State, yet, our entitlement is still pending.
“During the broadcast, the governor assured that any dis-engaged worker that reached the age of 45 years should go and claim his entitlement at his PFA office and most of us here are more than 50 years.
“The governor announced this not once not twice that he had settled us but the PFAs refused to come out publicly on the media to debunk his pronouncement,” he noted.
Addressing the protesters in his office, the Zonal Coordinator, Sigma Pension, Zaria, Malam Isma’il Abbas urged them to be calm and exercise some patience, stating that the problem was not from the company.
He used his cell phone to call the head of Kaduna office for more clarification.
The head of Kaduna office, Abdulqadir Ibrahim, advised the sacked workers to confirm from the Commissioner of Finance and office of the State Accountant General whether such payment was released to them.
“I want you people to come to Kaduna and find out from the Finance Commissioner yourselves as well as the Accountant General so that you will have conviction that the money is not yet release to us,” he advised.
On their part, the officer in charge of Zaria office of Leadway Pension, Malam Suleiman, directed the sacked workers to channel their complaint to Kaduna office for proper response.
The affected workers include sacked local government workers and primary school teachers who were affected by the 2017 rationalization exercise in Kaduna state.