BY Dayo Johnson
IT  was a sad day on Monday, October 10, for pensioners in Ondo State as they lost a colleague, an Octogenarian Olusa Ayodele, to government endless verification exercise just for  peanuts that are even not regular.

The unfortunate death of Ayodele is just one out of many that are reported.  There is no doubt that many have died in similar and even worse circumstances  while struggling to get their “benefits” or so-called fruit of their labour  after using their productive life to serve the country. What a shame.

Some have argued that probably late Ayodele could still be alive today, if the Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Orosanye had not ordered for a new verification and biometric enrolment.

While directing for the exercise, Orosanye  said” the verification and biometric enrolment of pensioners would enable the department to determine the accurate number of its pensioners, determine the accurate amount of monthly pension liability, build a database of pensioners information that would be used to facilitate as well as streamline the administration and direct payment of monthly pensions and create a technology platform for continuous verification of pensioners.

Venue of the exercise

This Ayodele in spite his illness came to do in Akure, the Ondo State Capital, when he slumped and died while waiting to be screened at the venue of the exercise.

The late Ayodele ,  according to his friend, Mr Ajibade Bamidele, who was equally present at the venue of the exercise, on that fateful day, retired in 1984 from the federal ministry of Agriculture.

Bamidele said  he has lost a good friend to the Nigerian system and rained curses on the system which has taken the plight of pensioners with levity, saying  “what Nigeria needed is a revolution that will right all the wrongs bedeviling the country.”

According to him, “Ayodele although was indisposed, risked his life when he knew that if he was not physically present for the exercise he might be deprived of his entitlements, but his fear has now been overtaken by his untimely death.”

Before Ayodele slumped and died, his friend said they sat together until he tried to stand up and joined the long queue. That was when he slumped.

He told  Pension and You  that the ugly incident happened like a movie and that many other pensioners expected him to stand up but were surprised that he could died ”just like that.”

Many blamed the death of Ayodele on the slow procedure by the verification committee.

The 30- year- old son of the deceased who brought him to Akure from their home town in Akumu Akoko, about two hours journey to Akure, the state capital because of the bad state of the  road,  said his father insisted he wanted to be physically present at the revalidation exercise in Akure.

Deji noted that his late father shun all entreaties not to go to Akure because of his illness but   insisted he  felt better after medication for the last one week as a result of malaria.

It was gathered that the deceased vomited twice on arrival at the venue.

He was said to have complained of stomach disorder and that efforts by his son to make the officials attend to him because of his illness met brick walls.

Deji said “my father was sick and this made it difficult for him to walk. I had to back him to this place. When he started vomiting, I shouted for help but there were no medical personnel on ground to offer first aid treatment.”

What shocked Journalists who rushed to the scene after his death was that while the late Ayodele’s corpse was on the bare floor, his colleagues continued with the exercise as if nothing happened.

The corpse  was unattended to  until the state Head of Service, Ajose Kudehinbu, rushed to the venue with an ambulance from the state’s hospitals management board to convey the deceased to his home town.

Efforts to speak with officials of the screening committee met brick walls as they claimed  they were on strict instruction not to speak to newsmen.

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