Protesting Edo Pensioners Causes Traffic Gridlock Over Unpaid Gratuities

The angry protesting Pensioners in Edo State on Thursday continued their protest in Benin City over unpaid pension arrears and gratuities against the threat by the Edo State Government that it would no longer allow stage-managed protest.

The pensioners mounted a roadblock and barricaded King Square thereby causing heavy vehicular traffic in over ten adjoining streets.

Edo State Head of Service, Mrs Gladys Idahor, had in a press statement said: “the state government would henceforth prevent miscreants who under the guise of agitating for pension payment, disrupt law and order in the society, particularly when there is sufficient evidence showing that they are being sponsored by some anti-development agents and mischievous members of the opposition who have refused to accept the verdict of the people.”

The pensioners who are staging their 15th protest brandished placards of various inscriptions which read thus “Gladys Idahor, tell Edo people the anti-development agents, mischievous members of the opposition party that are sponsoring the protesting pensioners in Edo State.”

“To stop street protests by pensioners, pay them their pensions benefits.”

“Obaseki Godwin, tell Edo State what you have done with Paris/London Loan Refunds meant for payment of pensioners entitlements”

The spokesman for the group, Barr. Gabriel Osemwekhai, said the government want to divert the Paris Club Refund by going on to place advertisements on the newspapers to say it was not owing.

“There is money the federal government brought which is the Paris Club Refund money. It was brought to pay all the outstanding arrears of pensioners and serving workers including pensioners gratuities.

” This is the Money they diverted that is making them go all about to bring adverts. They know that people cannot know what is really on the ground. The plain truth is that they cannot dare confront us because they know they are owing us.

“The good side of it is that they paid directly to the bank if anything is in doubt, we will refer to the various banks and let them say where they pay the money to. So, what we are asking for is pension arrears and gratuities, simple. It is not all the noise Gladys Idaho, the HOS is making. That is just an empty noise couple with her empty threat”, he said.

The pensioners alleged that they were owed between five and 42 months pension arrears, gratuity for local government pensioners from 2008 till date and for the State pensioners, it is from 2012 till date.

Benue Workers Begin Warning Strike Over Unpaid Salaries

Benue State workers on Tuesday embarked on a 7-day warning strike over the non-payment of salaries and allowances.

It was observed that they were all locked as the workers complied with the directive by the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress to stay away from offices.

Observation showed that usually busy routes leading to most offices were quiet.

At the State Secretariat in High-level area, Makurdi we met only security personnel behind the locked gates.

At the Secretary to the State Government’s Office along JS Tarkaa way, only a few casual staff were sighted loitering around.

Other offices visited included the Benue State Environmental and Sanitation Agency, Benue State Water Board and the Urban Development Board.

Mrs. Rita Mnguzamber a civil servant, told reporters that the strike was long overdue.

“We have been very patient with this government. The governor was voted in because he promised to make workers’ welfare his priority.

“He promised to settle arrears of salaries and pensions, but since he assumed office, it has been one excuse after another. We are just tired,” he said.

A political Analyst, Mr Johnson Terhide, said that the workers’ action was in order.

“Prompt payment of salaries and pensions should not be toyed with by any government. Workers cannot be expected to serve an irresponsible government that has no regard for their welfare,” he said.

He said that the current administration was voted in because Gov. Samuel Ortom accused his predecessor of not being worthy to serve because they were not paying salaries, allowances and pensions.

“Unfortunately, his government is even worse. The workers have resolved that no one will take them for granted and I feel this is in order,” he said.

Terhide urged government to meet up the demands of the workers to make for effective governance.

Mr Paul Egye, an economist, said that the non-payment of salaries had affected the Benue economy.

“Benue is an agrarian state; lots of farm produce are wasting away due to lack of money to buy them.

“People cannot pay school fees. May cannot pay rent. A lot of things are at a standstill. We cannot continue like that,” he said.

The strike, the first to be declared by labour since Ortom became governor in 2015, followed a communique jointly signed by the NLC Chairman, Mr Godwin Anya and his TUC counterpart, Mr Ordue Tartenger.

The duo had rejected Ortom’s appeal to shelve the action and wait for better days when the economy would improve.

“His appeal is predicated on the prevailing economic situation, but the state has not stopped receiving statutory allocations from the federation account. This is besides Internally Generated Revenue and other revenue receipts from the federal government.

“He (Ortom) appealed for understanding without any offer; he is mute about supplementary support from the Federal Government such as bailout and stabilization funds, Paris Club refunds, among others,” the communique said.

The unions advised the government to implement the state of emergency it declared on payment of salaries, gratuities and pensions.

Reacting, Special Adviser to Ortom on Media and ICT, Mr Tahav Agerzua, said that the governor had placed all the cards on the table before the labour leaders.

He opined that the strike was not the solution because it would not bring the money needed to pay the salaries and arrears being demanded.

Report shows that the Benue workers are owed nine months salaries, with Ortom saying that N40 billion was required to settle them.

FG’s N54bn Not Enough– Pensioners

The Nigerian Union of Pensioners has said that the N54bn released by the Federal Government to cleared pension liabilities to the Contributory Pension Scheme was not enough to cleared pension arrears. The NUP President, Dr Abel Afolayan, said this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said that the NUP felt the compelling need to put the facts straight as the Federal Government indebtedness to the CPS was over N280bn. He said the release of N54bn could not be said to have cleared the backlog of pension liability, adding the Federal Government had consistently under-appropriated for the CPS over the past few years.

“NUP has it on verified record that whereas the sum N93bn was needed to service Federal Government’s statutory obligations to the CPS in 2014, only N30.6bn was approved, resulting in N62.4bn deficit.

“Whereas N98.7bn was needed for the year 2015, the budget office only proposed the sum of N60.2bn to the National Assembly that alone was a shortfall of N38.5bn.

According to him, the year 2016 was worse as N91.9bn was required, but the budget office proposed only N50bn to the National Assembly, which also approved it, leaving a deficit of N41.9bn.

He said that of the N50bn approved in the 2016 budget, only the sum N18.8bn or mandates for four months was released and cash-backed.

He added that N31.3bn or mandate for seven and half months was never cash-backed and released.

According to him, the truth is that approval of payment is not the same as payment.

“It will be good for the minister to tell us when the fund was transferred to the National Pension Commission, and when it will hit pensioners’ accounts.

“Importantly, we are saddened that the Federal Government is claiming to have cleared pension arrears when the Minister did not say a word regarding the over N174bn owed pensioners who retired under the Defined Benefit Scheme.”

According to him, does it mean that pensioners under this scheme have finally been condemned to a life of eternal hardship, sickness, and untimely death, President Muhammadu Buhari is not only a retiree but also a kind leader.

“NUP recalls that he bent backwards to release bailout to State governments, which could not pay salaries.

“We call on the President to also extend the same kindness to the federal pensioners among us, whose pension benefits are his primary responsibility.

“ There is no doubt that the way retirees are treated would decide whether those in service and the younger generation would cue behind government’s anti-graft war or engage in looting to prepare for life after service,” he said.

Mrs Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Finance had said in a statement that the Federal Government released the sum of N54 billion to clear liabilities to the CPS from 2014 till date.

(NAN)

Pensioners to Smile as Buhari Releases Funds

The Muhammadu Buhari administration has released N54 billion to clear part of the backlog of accrued pension rights for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The Director of Information, Ministry of Finance, Mr Salisu Danbatta said on Wednesday that N41.5 billion has already been released to the National Pension Commission (PENCOM).

The amount released was for onward payment to those who retired under the Contributory Pension Scheme and who were yet to be paid.

Danbatta quoted the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun as saying that N12.5 billion, being outstanding for January, February and March 2017, was also released, bringing the total to about N54 billion.

“Despite conflicting demands for available cash, President Muhammadu Buhari has always expressed concern over the plight of workers and pensioners.

“Consistent with this, we have released N41.5 billion which clears the arrears inherited from the previous administration relating to the period 2013-15 and underpayments in 2016.

“This will bring relief to thousands of our elders who have served and deserve to be paid their entitlements promptly and fully,” she said.

The minister said that the amount paid also included arrears of those who retired as far back as 2013 and had been unable to access their pension under the contributory scheme due to non-payment.

To avoid future accumulation of pension arrears, Adeosun said that henceforth “the monthly allocation to the PENCOM based on the appropriation of 2017 will regularly be paid along with monthly salaries of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).”

All Federal Government workers began the monthly Contributory Pension Scheme in 2004, in line with the Pension Reform Act.

The money the Federal Government now owes its workers before the commencement of the act, is recognised in form of the issuance of Federal Government Retirement Benefits Bonds.

Upon retirement of an employee, the bonds are to be liquidated and added to the balance of the retirement savings account of an employee to get the amount he or she is entitled.

To ensure that government settles backlog of accrued rights, Pension Fund Administrators are not allowed to grant retirees access to their retirement savings until the federal government releases the accrued rights component.

This means that a retiree cannot access his or her Retirement Savings Account (RSA) through the Pension Funds Administrators without the accrued pension rights component.

So for Public Service workers who migrate to the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) in 2004, shortly before they retired, they are entitled to two components of retirement benefit.

That is the contributions accumulated in their RSA and their accrued right from the time they joined the service to the time they migrated to CPS.

The federal public servants who retired since January 2016, had staged a protest at the Federal Ministry of Finance headquarters in Abuja over their unpaid pension to the tune of N200 billion.

The retirees under the auspices of the League of Federal Service Contributory Pension Retirees led by the Coordinator, Mr Chike Ogbechie said that workers who have retired in the last 15 months were yet to receive their pension.

In reaction to the recent release, Mr Ogbechie when contacted by the News Agency of Nigeria said that the “N54 billion will clear much of the backlog of our pension, but not all. So the struggle still continues”.

NAN

Why FG Is Yet To Pay 13 Months Pension Arrears

The Federal Government is currently unable to meet its obligation to its retirees because it cannot cash back the Federal Government Retirement Benefits Bonds currently sitting at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Findings by our correspondent show that the Federal Government is currently owing its former workers accrued rights from January 2016 till date.

Accrued pension rights is the term used to describe what the Federal Government owes its workers who have been in service before the commencement of the Pension Reform Act, 2004.

All Federal Government workers were “retired” and then reemployed to join the service and their pension funded monthly according to the Pension Reform Act, 2004.

The money the Federal Government now owes its workers before the commencement of the act is recognised in form of an amount acknowledged through the issuance of Federal Government Retirement Benefits Bonds.

Upon retirement of an employee, the bonds are to be liquidated and added to the balance of the retirement savings account of an employee to get the total amount he or she is entitled to.

To ensure that government settles backlog of accrued rights, PFAs are not allowed to give access to their retirement savings until the Federal Government releases the accrued rights component.

This means that a retiree cannot access his or her Retirement Savings Account (RSA) through the Pension Funds Administrators without the accrued pension rights component.

So for Public Service Workers who migrated to the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) in 2004, shortly before they retired, they were entitled to two components of retirement benefits.

That is the contributions accumulated in their RSA and their accrued right from the time they joined the service to the time they migrated to CPS.

A source at the office of the Accountant General of the Federation that due to the present economic challenges, the government was finding it difficult to cash back the bonds.

It said that the setback was in the liquidation of the bonds issued by the DMO and domiciled at CBN.

“Even from the budgetary stage, what is budgeted for Pension is not enough to meet the needs even if it’s cash backed 100 per cent, so it’s a problem.

“Budget Office has to make provisions for it then we at AGF can pay. But I can tell you that N7 billion was paid to PENCOM at the end of December,” the source said.

Also, a source at PENCOM told our correspondent that a lot of retirees blamed the commission because they did not understand that the funds were not managed by the commission, thus its not its fault.

He clarified that only people that worked for the Fedaral Government before 2004 had such set back, thus it did not affect the private sector retirees.

“Whenever we get the money, we compile our list and give the names and money to the PFAs.

“The simple truth is that it is the Federal Government that is delaying the payment of accrued rights of retirees.

“Initially we were owing from October 2016, but some funds were released recently and two weeks ago we were able to pay workers that retired from November to December 2016,” the source said.

The source revealed that the biggest challenge right now was not just having the bonds cash backed, but rather, how to calculate the accrued pension a retiree was owed.

He said that a worker was “retired” at the level he or she was as at 2004 and that whatever was determined to be the person’s accrued pension rights was then converted to bonds which was expected to mature when a worker retired.

The source said the bonds were supposed to yield interest and boost the expected amount, yet no significant interest was reflected in the amount remitted for each retiree.

The source said each retiree was paid exactly or a little more than what was determined to be his accrued rights as at June 2004.

Mr Mohammed Julde, who worked with the Ministry of Education from 1984 to 2016, called on the Federal Government to heed the cry of its former workers.

He said it was not fair for them to suffer this after judiciously serving in the public service.

He urged public servants still in service in key departments to assist in resolving the issue as it affected every government worker that had been in the employment of the Federal Government before 2004.

Source

PHOTO NEWS : Pensioners Rally for Aregbesola

Over 3000 Pensioners today are presently holding a prayer session for Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola at the Freedom Park, Osogbo.

The pensioners had before starting their programme held a walk between Fakunle High School down to Olaiya junction and towards the freedom park sing solidariy songs with the governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbeosla who they revealed has tried and shown much sympathy towards the cause of the pensioners.

Recall the state governor had paid the sum of 14.3bn naira to clear salary and pension arrears in last week of December 2016. A large chunk of that fund went into paying the 21,000 strong pensioners in the state of Osun.

Video: Pensioners Refute Campaign Against Aregbesola on Paris Club Loan Refund

Details have emerged on the true state of payment for pensioners in the State of Osun, showing that senior citizens in the state have received their monthly entitlements up till December 2016. This is contrary to the claims of a curious group that claimed that it was out to get the governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

Prince Rotimi Adelugba, Chairman of Triangular Pensioners Association of Osun, stated that pensioners in the state has been paid up till December 2016, just like the state government said. He further  explained that “Osun State is still paying according to the Memorandum of Understanding reached between Labour and the Government. Imo State is owing 72 months”.

About the protesting pensioners, Prince Adelugba said without mincing words that he believed they were being sponsored. ” Osun State is a peaceful state, so I don’t understand why some people will go on rampage. At least by December last year, we collected three months. Then in late December, we collected the December pension as agreed upon”, he said.

Pensioners Refute Campaign Against Aregbesola on Paris Club Loan Refund

Details have emerged on the true state of payment for pensioners in the State of Osun, showing that senior citizens in the state have received their monthly entitlements up till December 2016. This is contrary to the claims of a curious group that claimed that it was out to get the governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

Prince Rotimi Adelugba, Chairman of Triangular Pensioners Association of Osun, stated that pensioners in the state has been paid up till December 2016, just like the state government said. He further  explained that “Osun State is still paying according to the Memorandum of Understanding reached between Labour and the Government. Imo State is owing 72 months”.

About the protesting pensioners, Prince Adelugba said without mincing words that he believed they were being sponsored. ” Osun State is a peaceful state, so I don’t understand why some people will go on rampage. At least by December last year, we collected three months. Then in late December, we collected the December pension as agreed upon”, he said.

It would be recalled that at the last Pensioners prayer meeting and medical checkup held at the recently renovated Freedom Park Osogbo, pensioners appreciated governor Rauf Aregbesola for the payment of their pensions in December and called on him to pay their outstanding gratuities.

A handful however formed a group and raised a banner that the group claimed was ‘Osun IDP Camp’. This, the group claimed was to “expose Governor Aregbesola”.

Other individuals have also condemned the group as fraudulent and revealed it’s leaders as a former judge who was sacked and the leader of a ” rogue CSO who is under investigation by the EFCC”.

Indigenes of the state such as, Demola Dekunle also debunked the group’s antics, explaining that his retired parent was paid till December 2016. In a comment made on an online news site, Demola called the story a fraud, stating that  “Punch displayed IDP canopy wit (sic) less 20 people. Osun has over 10,000 retirees, my father, Mr. Yaya Kasali Adebayo, inclusive, who got N161,000 among the least, for Sept, Oct, Nov & Dec. less than 2wks ago. Level 1-7 got full pay; 8-10 got 75%; and 12 above got 50% like those who are still in the service. This kind of crass negative political propagandum does not merit Punch edification”.

At the prayer meeting, Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners in the state, Comrade Omoniyi Ilesanmi alleged the state government owed the retired workers half of their pension between July 2014 and December, 2016. This would apply to pensioners who retired on Level 12 and above and the payment arrangement was for them to get 50% while levels 8-10 got 75% and Levels 1-7 got their full payments.

Osun Defender recalls Governor Aregbesola had in a statement last week, stated the sum of N14.2bn was used to clear staff salaries and pensions arrears for September 2016 to December 2016.

RE – Osun Pensioners Open IDP Camps For Members

By Engr. Omowaiye Oluremi A

The government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun has suffered the worst form of media attacks in the hands of half-baked journalists, economic saboteurs, religious fundamentalists and political neophytes. Over time, their unending attacks have been orchestrated to malign the governor, incite the people against him by distorting facts and putting up a false narrative of the true state of events in Osun.

 

It is pertinent to say that the monumental strides recorded in Osun under Governor Aregbesola are legendary and would forever remain indelible in the hearts of the people. It is worthy of note also, that even under the present inclement financial weather, Ogbeni Aregbesola has paid the salaries of civil servants and pensioners up till December 2016, a rare feat in the country, which is commendable.

 

Going down memory lane, in November 2010 when he assumed the mantle of leadership in Osun, the price of crude oil was well above $100 and he inherited a net wage bill of just N1.4 billion. As at today, with increase in minimum wage, even when the price of crude oil has dipped to around $50, Osun salary obligation hovers around N3.6 billion. It takes a measure of ingenuity, creativity and sacrifice on the leadership of the state government to be able to pay salaries, run the government and provide social and economic infrastructure, despite this glaring shortfall in revenue.

One of the 266 retirees from the Osun state civil service receiving his Retirement Bond Certificate from Governor Rauf Aregbesola as the Head of Service, Mr. Sunday Owoeye looks on. 7/8/2016
FILE PHOTO: One of the 266 retirees from the Osun state civil service receiving his Retirement Bond Certificate from Governor Rauf Aregbesola as the Head of Service, Mr. Sunday Owoeye looks on. 7/8/2016

 

Although, a cadre of the workers, those on grade level eight and above, have not been collecting full salary under the modulated salary scheme contained in the agreement signed by the state government and the workers unions, which implementation and operations have been adjudged successful.

 

In the same vein, the teeming pensioners in Osun have been treated with the same consideration and courtesy. A case in sight is the concessional loan obtained by states governments from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2015 for defraying backlog of salary arrears in which Osun got N34 billion. Despite the clear directive from the CBN that the grant was for the payment of active workers only and the insistence of labour unions to exclude pensioners, Ogbeni Aregbesola in his magnanimity and consideration for the retirees still released a whopping N7.44billion to offset the outstanding arrears of pensioners – N5.42billion for State pensioners and N2.02 billion for Local Government pensioners.

 

In contrast, there have been undenied reports of neglect of pensioners by various State Governments across the country, including in an Eastern State where retirees have not received a dime in the last 72months.

 

Yet, from the recently released Paris Club refund of N11.7 billion used in offsetting backlog of workers salaries, 21,552 Osun pensioners got a total of  N2.57 billion for the payment of September to December 2016 salaries. For emphasis sake, just as the active workers, Osun pensioners, both State and Local Governments, have been paid till December 2016. Though Osun got a sum of N11.7billion from the shared Paris Club refund, a verifiable sum of 14.2 billion was expended for payment of salaries and wages of September-December 2016 salaries.

 

It’s worth noting that under the modulated scheme, a total sum of N3.98bn was paid to state pensioners for year 2016 while their counterparts in the Local Government gulped a total sum of N3.90 billion, totalling N7.88 billion as pension payment in 2016 for Osun retirees.

 

It is however disheartening to read The Punch newspaper make mockery of the government by circulating tendentious picture of misguided pensioners, less than 100 in number, claiming to have opened an IDPs camp, without recourse to ethical and professional requirement of investigation, in order to have a well-balanced report.

 

This is nothing other than the hijack of a media organisation for propaganda and incitement of the people against the government by obsolete political marauders who have failed to see anything good in the government of the day. We are unperturbed by their moves as their combined efforts remain insignificant politically in the politics of Osun, as indicated in all elections conducted in the state since 2011 in which they have continued to suffer heavy defeat.

 

We share the pains of the people and governments of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, who have some of their citizens and residents in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. We sympathise with the victims of terrorist attacks who have lost family members, their homes, valuables and possessions and are left with no other home apart from the IDPs camps. If the dream of the writer of the malicious story and his cohorts such as a dismissed female Judge and a fake cleric is to have Osun host an IDP centre, in a state where peace and tranquillity is second to none, where ongoing projects are nearing completion, where masses oriented programmes are applauded internationally, then we leave posterity to be the judge of their wicked intentions.

The Aregbesola administration is forging ahead to deliver on all promises to the people of the state, complete all projects embarked upon, make life more meaningful for the citizens, expand the horizon of economic activities, attain enviable heights in all facets of human endeavour and leave behind a legacy for championing a free and egalitarian society devoid of poverty, violence, crime and injustice.

 

We appeal for understanding, support and cooperation from all citizens and residents, in order to transform our dream of a great and prosperous state into reality for our generation and the yet to be born.

 

Engr . Omowaiye Oluremi A.

B-Tech, MBA, CEH, MCTS (SQL 2005,WEB & WINDOWS TECH) MCP, MNSE, REngr, MCPD

Pensioners Demand Payment Of Entitlements In Bayelsa

Pensioners on Monday blocked the entrance to Government House in Bayelsa in protest against unpaid entitlements for the past five months.

The pensioners, who carried placards with various inscriptions, said the welfare of their members was not negotiable.

Some of the inscriptions included: Dickson, pay us our gratuities, and, be good to pensioners, we voted for you”, among others.
Mr Bodi Amarah, Chairman Caretaker Committee of NUP in Bayelsa, said the protest was to call government’s attention to the non-payment of members’ five months pension arrears.

“We have not been paid our pension for five months and some of us have not received gratuity at all, the Bayelsa government should pay us our money.

“Our members came out this morning to protest, just to call government’s attention to our welfare, but some group of youths came and started beating up our members.

“Our placards have been destroyed by the youths, they injured some of us. One of our members who was beaten up is receiving treatment in the hospital.

“We did not come out for war, we only came here to ask for what belongs to us, now, see what we are receiving as our pay.
“The pension is our right and it is not going to be negotiable; we will not leave here until Gov. Seriake Dickson comes out to address us.

“Yes, we have tried several times to meet with the governor, but all efforts have proved abortive”, Amarah said.
Mr Philip Didi, another member said, “the beating up of the pensioners by the youths is cruel and inhuman.

“We need our money because we have served the state meticulously for 35 years; our members are dying and our children’s school fees have not been paid,” he said.

Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Chief Press Secretary to Bayelsa Governor, admitted that the pensioners’ were being owed by the state government.
He, however, denied the beating up of the pensioners by youths, describing “the reported assault on pensioners in Government House as misleading.’’ (NAN)