- Retirees Accuse Government Of Negligence\
By Ismaeel Uthman
Despite the meager resources at its disposal, the State Government of Osun has reiterated its commitment to the payment of pensions and gratuities of its retired workers, as it stated that the protesting pensioners are mischief makers.
This is contained in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Adelani Baderinwa, saying the government has always go out of its way to make sure that both the active and inactive workers are paid their entitlements in spite of the paucity of funds.
Pensioners in the State on Tuesday took to the street in their numbers to protest the non-payment of their gratuity and pension arrears. The protest which lasted between 7 and 10 am began from Ayetoro and terminated at Olaiya junction causing traffic gridlock that lasted for hours. The protest lasted for three days.
The protesting senior citizens carried placards bearing various inscriptions such as: “Aregbesola, pay our pensions, our members are dying; over 2000 of our members have died, stop the avoidable deaths; among others.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in the state, Prince Ganiyu Salawu, maintained that the government presently owes over 18 months pension arrears with huge gratuities despite the billions of naira released to the state by the Federal Government in form of bail out meant for this purpose.
However, the state government in the statement said “No genuine retired workers in the state will go out to protest on the lies and political statement they call non-payment of pension and gratuity. Any pensioner that does that should be checked, he or she might be a paid mischief maker and blackmailer”.
“We wish to remind the general public that this set of pensioners were persistent in their show of shame and political gathering called protest between June and July last year when we were about to conduct the Osun West Senatorial District by-election. They disappeared into the thin air immediately after the election. Seeing them on the street this time around is not surprising, they have been obviously paid to blackmail the government like they did a year ago.
“For record purpose, the government had in February this year specially paid pensions and gratuities to a total number of 2006 pensioners who retired from Ministries, Departments, Agencies and parastatals service in 2011/2012 when the government released a sum of N1.2bn for such purpose. Cheques containing different amount of money was handed over to the pensioners by the Head of Service, Dr Oyebade Olowogboyega. Of the N1.2bn, a sum of N200m was used to paid gratuity while additional N200million was added in March for the payment of gratuity as well, making the total sum N400m for gratuity payment.
“Also in May, a total sum of N200m was released for the payment of gratuities to retired officers on old pension scheme and another sum of N100million for the payment of contributory pensioners. The payment of the gratuity was done by the Head Service, Oyebade, on May 24 this year at the Local Government Service Commission Hall, Government Secretariat, Abere. The gratuity was paid to the senior civil citizens of the state who processed their papers at the Teachers’ Establishment and Pensions Office (TEPO), Secondary School Teachers, Parastatals as well as those from some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). A total of 720 retired public servants under the old scheme were also given part payment of their gratuity.
“In the same May of this year, the government released a sum of N1.8bn bond to the retired workers under the Contributory Pension Scheme in the state. More than 210 civil servants were given the bond certificates. 171 retired officers and 39 retired workers from the local government received their bond certificates totaling N1.6bn and N200m respectively.
“A sum of N40 million was also released to fresh set of 400 pensioners in the state. The sum was paid to 148 retired secondary school teachers, 250 retired civil servants and 2 retired parastatals workers. Of the money, a sum of N25m, N14.8m and N200, 000 were paid to the retired civil servants, teachers and parastatals workers respectively.
“With these interventions, it is out of place to say that the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola is insensitive to the plight of the pensioners. The protesting pensioners are out for cheap blackmail against the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
Government wishes to call the attention of the good people of the State of Osun to the fact that the 2011/2012 group of pensioners does not represent the totality of pensioners in the state. The 2011/2012 pensioners are politicians and not pensioners. They are in pursuit of political matter, the statement stressed.