The Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly has set up a 7-member ad hoc committee headed by the House Leader, Rt. Hon Udo Kierian Akpan to interface with stakeholders with a view to unraveling the true situation of things surrounding pension matters in the state.
The House waded into the issue following a matter of urgent public importance brought before it by the member representing Itu state constituency, Hon. Idong Ituen. The Itu member informed the House about a recent protest by individuals in the state who said the state government owed them some months of pensions. Hon. Ituen said that the state government, at the inception of the current administration, cleared a backlog of pensions and salaries and that the current protest could put the image of the state in disrepute if not looked into.
The committee which has two weeks to submit a comprehensive report to the House was also directed to get to the roots of the matter concerning alleged non-refund of the 7.5 percent contributory pension to some category of workers in government employ.
Commenting on the matter, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. (Barr) Onofiok Luke said the issue was worth the lawmakers’ attention because it was important to defend the interest of the people and also protect government at all times.
“It is our avowed commitment to always rise to the occasion to see to it that we defend the interest of the people and be seen at all times to be an unbiased umpire. We must also be seen to be making decision from an informed position. We must appreciate His Excellency the Governor for his efforts in paying the backlog of arrears in pensions and salaries, and also try to look into the sentiments of those who may not agree with government on the matter.”
The Speaker said that the House will have to listen to stakeholders in the matter including those who went on protest against alleged non-payment of their pension as well as the commissioners of finance and local government affairs.
The ad hoc committee which will interface with the executive and the affected pensioners include Rt. Hon. Udo Kieran Akpan (Chairman), Hon. Samuel Ufuo (Deputy Chairman), Hon. David Lawrence, Hon. Emmanuel Ekpenyong, Hon. Nse Ntuen, Hon. Mfon Ekong, and Hon. Idongesit Ntekpere.