Issues/Policy Osun Pensioners And Antics Of Agent Provocateurs

Issues/Policy  Osun Pensioners And Antics Of Agent Provocateurs
  • PublishedAugust 18, 2020

By Adebayo Adedeji

In the days of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), when he was persecuted on the day of Taif, he prayed to God to forgive his foolish persecutors, perhaps something good would come from their generation.

Ordinarily, the above Islamic allusion should be the operational compass of any good leader. This should be his guide so he does not use his quality time meant for statecraft to duel on politically motivated irritants. However, ignoring the antics of some political perverts, the irredeemable aberrant, for more than necessary, (in the name of expecting them to turn a new leaf), could be inimical to healthy political and social living of a community; hence all men of good conscience must rise above primordial partisanship to support a genuinely working and pertinacious government. The foregoing is what has informed this current intervention of the writer.

There is no doubt that, in recent times, the rating of the State Governor of Osun, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola has soared— leapfrogged— to the chagrin of enemies of good governance. The Oyetola-led government is the talk-of-the-town, even when the taciturn but calculative governor might choose to do his work quietly without any media attention. The public opinion has rated him high in the areas of health revitalization, security, road construction/public infrastructure and prompt payment of workers’ salary and pension.

Contrary to expectations of some people, the state government is religiously committed to payment of salary, pension; and to defraying backlog of gratuities. But the more the government demonstrates her serious dedication to the welfare of pensioners and workers, the more the political naysayers become lugubrious, desperate, and roam the town with mendacious narratives about the intention of the government. They, every now and again, recruit other perverts, arm them with placards and send them on the streets of Osogbo, and other big towns in the state, to blackmail the government and portend to give the government and her handlers negative press they do not deserve.

The issue of pension is an important one and every decent government must pay attention to it. No government should ever deny the respected senior citizens their retirement benefit. They deserve it for they have worked for it. Every legitimate and reasonable demand for pension payment is right and should be welcomed by every government. I believe it is because Governor Oyetola understands the import of this truism, he does not toy with pension payment; same way he does not toy with what concerns the active workers. What this writer feels should not be tolerated and unreasonably elevated is incitement, veiled hatred, willful misinformation in the guise of pension advocacy.

Since his inauguration in 2018, Oyetola has not owed workers and pensioners their entitlements. Their payments are prompt and regular.

As at May 2020, the government of Oyetola has spent more than N10 Billion on pension, gratuity and Contributory Pension alone: N9 billion has been spent on pension, over N400 million on gratuity while close to N700 million has been disbursed as Contributory Pension within this period. Just from November 2018 to May 2020!

In addition to the above, the government, around July 6 this year, approved a fresh N150m for gratuity payment; and some days ago too, approved another N500m for pension payment of Osun retirees on Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS). Of the N500m, N300m would go to retired primary school teachers and local government workers; while N200m would go for settling pension of retired workers in the state’s civil service and parastatals.

Before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, reports had it that the state made average N1bn monthly as IGR ( though the state targets N3bn, this is no doubt a huge leap from what the State used to make before Oyetola’s arrival ); and N2bn from the federal allocation. These figures could be verified from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). In other words, a total of N3bn was made on the average in the state before the Coronavirus outbreak. Out of this revenue, N2bn was used for payment of workers’ salary, pension and 7.5 per cent markup for workers on CPS.

Having carried out these statutory obligations, the state would be left with just N1bn to fund other government projects like repairs and maintenance of schools and health facilities; providing special equipment for crime prevention and control; rehabilitation of roads, etc. In a simple term, 75 per cent of what the State Government of Osun makes every month goes to servicing workers and pensioners who are just less than 1 per cent of the state’s population!

In view of the above, one might be tempted to ask how does Oyetola manage the situation, given the fact that his government still pays workers and pensioners as and when due, and the state is also a construction hub? Strong financial engineering, you say?

Just last month, the leadership of the union, under the auspices of Triangular Group of Pensioners, in a press conference held in Osogbo, the state capital, spoke glowingly  of Governor Oyetola, dubbed him an exceptional person who had exhibited the value of a good leader.

In his words, Prince Rotimi Adelugba, the union’s Chairman maintained: “Our group is in constant discussion with the governor on outstanding gratuities to those retirees in 2012, payment of 30 percent arrears to the entitled pensioners and sustainability of prompt payment of full pensions to retirees.

The pensioners thanked Oyetola for what they called gradual payments of gratuities to the entitled pensioners and his commitment to touch all aspects of retirement benefits, including those under contributory pension scheme in the state. These are kind words of down-to-earth statesmen. Even when they have got some legitimate demands to make, they are not selfish about it or resorting to brigandage and petulant protests as some political hirelings are wont to do.

The organised pensioners are at peace with the state government because they know the government has prioritised their welfare. They know that even with the fall in the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) by 40%, a heavy blow caused by COVID-19 pandemic, the state government would continue to work for their interest. They know this; an average Osun person knows this, so no epistle from the pit of falsehood merchants could set the respected and genuine senior citizens against the government of Oyetola. No sponsored protests by the drowning opposition party could make the people hate Oyetola and his party, APC.

Governor Oyetola and his hardworking team should continue to ignore the ranting of the perfidious rent-seekers in the garbs of retirees. Government work should continue sans distraction, while the perennial street trekkers and mischief peddlers find the good people of the state to contend with.

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