Pensioners, drenched in rain and shivering, on Monday waited for more than eight hours outside Oba Akinjobi old secretariat, Ikeja, Lagos, for a verification exercise that saw the collapse of at least four senior citizens.
It was aimed at identifying pensioners in the civil service to facilitate the payment of their benefits and entitlements, and also to flush out ghost pensioners.
But the exercise turned a gruelling one, with overstretched queues and senior citizens having to stand for as long as eight hours, yet not being attended to.
On Tuesday, they were eventually informed that the exercise had been cancelled.
A pensioner, in obvious anguish as he spoke to TheCable, said “they forget that one day they will grow up to be in our shoes and only then will they understand what this feels like”.
Another pensioner, with teary eyes, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said he came all the way from Ondo state and spent a lot to transport himself, yet the exercise was cancelled.
“People have been here since 7:00 am and now you tell us to go home, that we will be contacted if anything comes up; even though we were not contacted when the decision was made. How are we to believe that?” he asked.
One witness lamented the situation, saying older citizens need not be put through such distress.
“I saw people old enough to be my grandparents standing on long queues, soaking wet, all in the name of getting verified,” says Michael Olatubosun, a man who witnessed Monday’s sufferings of the aged former workers.
“Some could not stand for long due to health issues but they were not given a choice; they were forced to queue and this led to them being carried away in ambulances.
“This excuse is unacceptable; something needs to be done to help ease the process of verification. I hope this break is to help put things in order and make the verification exercise stress-free and better because this people have given the best of their years to the country and they need to be treated right.”
A man simply identified as Akintola, an official of the Lagos state government, said the order to suspend the exercise came “from above”.
He apologised for the inconvenience and said he received the order late, so it could not have been disseminated earlier.