OYO: Tales Of Woe, As Pensioners Get Paid In Tranches
THE non-payment of pensions in Oyo State is currently a major source of worry to pensioners in the state. Unable to face the hardship, aggrieved pensioners recently stormed the Agodi Government House to protest non-payment of their pension arrears.
Chanting solidarity songs, the pensioners, who trooped out in their hundreds, displayed placards bearing various inscriptions such as, We reject NLC, TUC and government MOU, Muhammad Buhari, bail pensioners out before we die, Stop avoidable deaths and Please pay us immediately, among others pleaded with the government to save them from untimely death and pay their pensions.
The pensioners, among other things, demanded the immediate payment of between 10 and 25 months pension arrears. They listed their other demands to include, immediate implementation of six per cent and l5 per cent increase for retired local council staff, payment of arrears of six per cent and l5 per cent pension increase and immediate reinstatement of pensioners whose names were unjustifiably removed.
The union lamented that over 500 members had lost their lives due to unpaid pension allowances over a year ago, while some had succumbed to minor and treatable illness.
With the current economic reality and indebtedness, the state government may find it difficult to meet financial obligations and appealed to the Federal Government to come to their rescue.
When contacted, Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in the state, Alhaji Ismail Tijani Akinola, said they are being owed between 10 and 27 months salary arrears across different levels.
Akinola said they were paid last in March and lamented that the payment in February was done in tranches.
He said, “we have never had it so bad, the February payment to us were done three times, first it paid 32 per cent, then 56 per cent and 12 per cent. While for the March payment, the government only paid 61 per cent.”
The NUP leader expressed hope that with the bail out from the federal government, they will be paid all their arrears in due time.
Meanwhile, the state government has attributed its inability to meet the demand of the pensioners to paucity of fund and the theft of N6. 5b of pensioners’ money by some officials during the administration of a previous regime.
Specifically, governor Abiola Ajimobi said it had entered into an agreement with the parent bodies of the pensioners namely: Nigeria Union of Pensioners and the National Association of Retired Local Government Primary School Teachers, on the modalities for the settlement of pension arrears and gratuity in installments, consequent upon the theft.
It assured of government’s commitment to the welfare of retirees, which informed the unprecedented implementation of the 142 per cent pension rise by the administration in 2011.
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