‘My Bitter Experience’: Kogi Pensioner Shares Ordeals over Unpaid Wages since 2017

Imam Odankaru

A Pensioner in Kogi State has taken to social media to share his sad ordeals as a civil servant up until post-retirement with owed salaries and gratuity respectively.

Imam Odankaru, vide his Facebook account, disclosed he has not been paid since 2017 when he retired.

He wrote:

“When I was recruited as an auxiliary teacher in 1976 by the Late Alh Aliu Omeiza, I felt on top of the world. My monthly take-home was #60, I mean sixty naira, while qualified teachers (Grade 2 teachers) were paid #120 monthly. My parents saw my flamboyant living, and they were on my neck to get married, which I strongly objected to because I wanted to go for Teachers Grade 2. I actually enrolled in the Egbe Teachers’ College in 1977 and came out in flying colors. I was immediately re-employed in 1982.

The teaching profession, which used to be so nice, now turned to be a bitter pill. Salary was no longer regularly paid. As a result, I decided to acquire some skills to support my livelihood as salary was no longer predictable. I took many risks traveling to places I never knew. All I did was to sleep in the community mosques. I traveled to places like Lagos, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Abba, Ikare, Akure, and Kabba to acquire some skills. Alhamdulillah, from these journeys, I was able to acquire skills like Drawing, Photography, Printing, Serigraphic works (Screen printing), Carving, Sculpture, Wood Lamination, Textile printing, and Dyeing, etc. All these skills assisted me greatly in overcoming Teachers’ related poverty.

When Igala governors were upon us one after another, teachers’ conditions deteriorated. They worsened our condition to the extent that we never could predict our payday. Empty promotions without financial backing were the order of the day. Leave bonus or Leave grants disappeared. Gratuity became a matter of an ancient story. I personally don’t believe in Tribal politics. At a point in time, I started to nurse some unrealistic dreams, thinking that if an Ebira man is made the governor of the state, teachers’ conditions of service would definitely improve. So, I went into fervent prayer for an Ebira governor. The happiest day of my life was the day Yahaya Bello was sworn in as the governor of Kogi state. Teachers were heard all over the places saying “Our suffering is gone”. I nearly gave a deadly or a dirty slap, as you may call it, to my intimate friend (not a teacher) who said while we were all jubilating that our hope was just an unrealistic dream. Truly when Yahaya Bello came, screening upon screening was his achievement. We stayed more than 19 months without a salary, which has never happened in Kogi state.

Most unfortunately, I was made an Acting Education Secretary without any official car and without receiving any overhead, which used to be the pride of the lofty office. I had to go borrowing to run the office at the most turbulent time of the Screening exercise. All these man-made sufferings came at a time when I had four children in tertiary institutions. I was crying, my children were crying. My major fear this time was the fear of letting my children withdraw from their institutions. That would be too dangerous between the father and child. I could not do my little business to support the family because I was all the time going to Government House Lokoja to attend to one problem or the other as the Acting ES. Here the suffering continued without any hope of coming out of it. If there’s anything I detest most, it’s begging for alms. Since my childhood, I hate begging. That’s why God made me creative. This time around, I became a beggar at a time when I am supposed to be supportive to my impoverished siblings.

Thanks to the Late Alh Ahmad (Alh Sanusi Abu’s brother) who shared my pains and gave me his brother’s contact to always text him for help. And truly, Alh SANUSI ABU was my saving grace. He was all the time sending money into my account that helped my children graduate from their various schools. May Allah reward him abundantly. I don’t know why such good people are not put at the helm of affairs. Life would have been better off.

The worst of my ordeals in the unwholesome government came after RETIREMENT. I retired in 2017, and my pension was not paid until after twelve calendar months. And it has been coming in an exiguous percentage. Up till now, we can’t even think of our gratuity, which amounts to eight million naira. Right now, because of these ugly experiences, I have developed some ill health coupled with insomnia and general debility. No money to go for medical check-up and so I’m doomed to die gradually. Whoever doomed me to work for 35 years without gratuity will live long with a miserable life.”


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