The Governor of Bayelsa state, Mr. Seriake Dickson, Tuesday, blamed the inability of his government to pay pensioners their monthly entitlements on his predecessors.
The governor in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, spoke in Yenagoa when he constituted the state and local government pension boards.
Pensioners are owed about nine months of unpaid arrears in the state.
Dickson said: “The government inherited a liability of about N6billion; we then worked out a mechanism where we set aside N500million for monthly payment until the last 8 months that the state allocation from the federation account started dropping.
“For about eight months the pensioners have not been paid and that is very touching because for four years, we did not fail to pay pensioners until the last eight months.
“Now for this old men and women are on account of the failure of the leadership of the past, we are now unable to meet our obligations to them.
“We want to use this opportunity to ask for understanding, for people who gave their all for years in the service of the state. We appreciate their service to the state and we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that they begin to get their pension every month.”
But Dickson charged the new boards to make concerted efforts at ensuring the physical verification of all pensioners.
He gave them an assurance that payment of those identified will commence with immediate effect and lamented the untold hardship of pensioners in the last eight months.
The state pensions’ board is to be headed by Mrs. Jane Alek, while Sir Frazer Okuoru, is to chair the LG pensions’ board.
While Owie Biate Igoni will serve as Secretary of the State Pensions Board; Nathan Ayibakeme, Mr. Leader Tamatimigha, Dr. Martha Akpana and HRH Darius Job are to serve as directors, with 1: ex-officio members.
The local LG pensions’ board has Mr. Mathias Otuogha as Secretary and six other members.
The governor said he was determined Dickson to completely eradicate payroll fraud in the state and charged both boards to swing into action immediately.
He advised members of the boards to collaborate with the various ministries, departments, agencies and parastatals to ensure that the names of dead pensioners and persons who above 70 years and above are detected and expunged from the payrolls of the government.
He said: “This board has a number of experienced people, who can give advice and guidance, and I call for collaboration among those on the board and the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to identify all those who are dead and are still on the payroll of the government, and those over 70-80 years still collecting salaries.
“I charge you all to ensure that all those who are going to be paid are verified. You have to verify each and every one of them, interact with them, go to them if they are too weak to come, take their photographs, very their age and particulars.”