No fewer than 1000 pensioners under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Oyo State on Tuesday visited the state governor, Seyi Makinde’s office in Agodi, Ibadan, to protest their unpaid N63 billion arrears.

The pensioners also urged the governor to immediately declare a state of emergency on pension matters in view of the about N63 billion arrears past administrations owned the pensioners.

It was gathered that the unpaid arrears owed were from eight to 56 months of unpaid gratitude which mostly affected retired primary school teachers and local government pensioners.

The pensioners were led by Acting Chairman Abimbola Abolade and state secretary Olusegun Abatan.

Abatan speaking on behalf of the pensioners, called for the upward review of the monies allocated to settling the arrears in the interest of the retirees.

He said: “It is regrettable to inform your Excellency that gratuities of workers, who retired in the year 2012, are just being paid in 2019. We strongly appeal that the monthly allocation to the Ministry of Establishment be increased to N500 million monthly to enable prompt payment of gratuities and pensions.

“If you add all these arrears together, government’s indebtedness to Oyo State pensioners alone would be in the neighbourhood of N100 billion. It is this pertinent to urge your excellency to declare a state of emergency on pension matters.”

Governor Makinde in his response, said the pensioners under his administration would give everything that is due to them under the law as and when due, saying however, that “in this journey, there are two parts’.

“Part one started on May 29, 2019. We have drawn a line there that from May 29, 2019, till the end of this –administration, whatever is due to you under the law, will be done for you.

“So, what we are saying is that salaries of workers, pensions and all other statutory payments that government should pay, we will pay them as at when due.

“But what had transpired before we came on board, we will roll them together, and look at how to deduct money in installments to offset the arrears. This is what I promised during the campaign. Whatever we can devote to it every month, we will devote it.

“I must let you appreciate the position we are in in Oyo State, as of today. There is no hide-and-seek game in what we are doing inside the Governor’s Office. We will make it completely open. I want you to hold me accountable for that.

“The Federal Allocation to Oyo State every month is N4.5 billion roughly. The wage bill is N5.5 billion. So, there is a gap of N1 billion. Our monthly internally generated revenue – even historical within one month and four days that we have spent in office, is roughly N2 billion. If we take N1 billion in the IGR to complete workers’ salaries, it remains N1 billion.

“The contract I met on ground is that the consultant, collecting the IGR for the government, is being paid 20 per cent. So, the consultancy fee in the N2 billion is about N400 million. So, if we add N1billion to workers’ salaries and pay the consultant N400 million, what we have left is about N500 million to N600million. These exclude allocations to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

“But don’t be scared, we have put all these factors into consideration before we decided that God should use us for the people of Oyo State. I told you the state of things so that you can appreciate our position. We are ready and able to tackle the challenges.


Sylvester

Sylvester is an event manager and decorator. He is a trained extension agent and a development communicator, a freelance writer, drama minister and pastor.

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