Pensioners in the Calabar branch of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) say the 400 bags of rice given to 2.5 million of them to share as palliative are 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 the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar on Wednesday, Chairman of the branch, Mr Godwin Effiong, said it was absurd to share two or three cups of rice to 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 information that reached the union was that the Federal Government would send N800 bags of rice as fuel subsidy removal palliative to pensioners in the state.
Effiong added that “all of a sudden, it was cut down because pensioners in the state are of two categories, the state and the local government pensioners.
“Local government pensioners belong to a group called Pensioners Association which they carved out by themselves and we also have 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 to seven cups because we wanted it to go round to avoid complaints later,’’ Effiong said.
He, however, expressed appreciating of federal and state governments’ gestures to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.
Cross River government has also approved the payment of N10,000 monthly to workers and pensioners in the state for six months.