Sometime in the second tenure of the outgone Peter Obi administration, the government decided to be paying old men and women of the state, better known as senior citizens, the sum of five thousand Naira monthly. In announcing the largesse, government stated clearly that beneficiaries were restricted to those who had no means of sustenance; and not those from rich back grounds.
That decision was hailed by all and sundry, especially by the senior citizens themselves, many of whom were living in penury owing to lack of care.
The scheme took off well after initial problems and monies were given to the concerned people who were selected by their various town unions to whom the monies were given.
Indeed the last payment was made in July 2013 which covered six months in advance, meaning that it ended in December of that year. Nothing was paid for the last three months of that regime which terminated in March. From then till now however, the senior citizens have been paid only once.
For the records, nothing was paid at all in 2014 until sometime in April 2015 when one month stipend was paid. From then till now, the old men and women are yet to be paid.
Fides gathered that the concerned people are now considering organising a protest march to drive home their disenchantment with their situation.
While we acknowledge the fact that the state, like many others, is going through lean times occasioned by the global economic down turn, we make haste to appeal to the Anambra State government of Gov Willie Obiano, to find a way of sustaining the payment of this stipend to the senior citizens. This money has no doubt lifted the spirits of many of these old people, providing them with something to look forward to every month.
This is even as we appeal to the senior citizens to exhaust all avenues open to them for reaching out to the government before embarking on any protest as such may be misinterpreted as confrontational.
But in the meantime, government should devise a fool proof method of ensuring that the money when paid is not tampered with. We say this because of funny tales trailing the past payments where some unscrupulous presidents-general of communities attempted to corner some of the money, especially when it was paid in arrears. This is even as government should also ensure that nobody asks the old people for kick-backs.
Tampering with money meant for old people who have nothing more to rely on, is one of the greatest injustices that can be perpetrated by anyone and the people behind such should be dealt with promptly.
It is therefore our sincere hope that this matter of arrears of senior citizens' stipends will be amicably settled in time for everyone to be happy.