ENUGU, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- Pensioners in the Calabar, Cross River State branch of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners have described the 400 bags of rice given to 2.5 million of them to share as palliative as grossly inadequate.
The Calabar branch of NUP covers Odukpani, Calabar Municipality, Calabar South, Akpabuyo, and Bakassi local government areas in the Southern Senatorial District of Cross River.
Speaking with journalists in Calabar on Wednesday, the chairman of the branch, Godwin Effiong, said it was absurd to share two or three cups of rice with each member.
He stressed that it was even unconscionable to ask a pensioner to spend N1,000 on transportation to travel for about 12 kilometres from his village to Calabar only to collect two cups of rice.
He said also that it would have been difficult to share the rice but for the appointment of coordinators in each of the five local government areas.
He explained that the information that reached the union was that the Federal Government would send 800 bags of rice as fuel subsidy removal palliative to pensioners in the state.
Mr Effiong added that suddenly it was reduced because pensioners in the state were divided into two categories: state pensioners and local government pensioners.
“Local government pensioners belong to a group called the Pensioners Association, which they carved out by themselves, and we also have the NUP for state retirees, so the palliative was shared between the two groups almost equally.
“It was grossly insufficient because some people went home with just three cups of rice while others got between five and seven cups because we wanted it to go around to avoid complaints later,’’ Mr Effiong said.
He, however, expressed appreciation for the federal and state governments’ gestures to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.
The Cross River government has also approved the payment of N10,000 monthly to workers and pensioners in the state for six months.