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N5.5bn Loan: Taraba pensioners renew protests

Pensioners in Taraba State have renewed their mass protests following 30 days of consecutive demonstrations in August.

The renewal of the protests on Monday followed the fresh N5.5 billion loan approved for Governor Darius Ishaku by the Taraba State House of Assembly on Wednesday, last week.

The protesting pensioners, who marched to the state House of Assembly, Jalingo, questioned what has been done with loans received from a variety of financial institutions, as well as a recent federal government bailout, and the trumpeted Paris club refund.

Speaking on behalf of the retirees, the state chairman of pensioners, Comrade Silas Jafta, demanded the payment of their entitlements, insisting that the government owed it to the people to be accountable in its use of all funds received by the governor since 2015.

“We are out again to protest for our rights,” Comrade Jafta told his co-protesters.

We want governor Ishaku to be sensitive and pay us our retirement benefits.

“The governor has collected a lot of loans. He has no project to point at as to what he has used the monies for. He keeps borrowing and Taraba state is gradually becoming the most indebted state in Nigeria, but our entitlements are still not considered after retiring for over ten years.

“While we demand that the N5.5 billion loan that was approved last week for ruler roads completion should be used to begin the payment of our entitlements. We also demand an immediate investigation into all the monies collected by the governor since he has no reasonable project on the ground.”

Meanwhile, the Speaker, Taraba State House of Assembly, Professor Joseph Albasu Kunini, reportedly refused to attend to the protesting pensioners, who had waited for over four hours at the assembly’s gate.

Reacting to the N5.5 billion loan, the governorship candidates of the Labour Party and the APC in the state, Senator Danlami Ikenya and Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, kicked against the decision of the state house of assembly.

They questioned the capacity of the governor to repay the N5.5 billion within the remaining seven months of his administration. As such, he should not be allowed to increase the state’s debt burden by so much.

Reporting by Sani Sulaiman; Editing by Fany Olumoye, Omotola Oguneye and Tony Okerafor