The oppositions in Osun should stop using the name of pensioners to erect camp in the State. They should come out openly and criticize positively.
The pensioners numbering about 200, in conjunction with opposition members led by a retired judge in the state Judiciary, who erected a camp, have forgotten that in 2015, Osun committed a total of N5, 426, 720, 195. 68 to pay pensions in spite of the very difficult financial stress the state found itself. In 2016, the state also committed a total of N3, 981, 312, 918.78 to payment of pensions.
However, my joy is that over 3,000 Members of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Osun State under the aegis of Triangular Group of Pensioners have lauded the state governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola for paying the arrears of their pension up to December 2016.
The pensioners staged a peaceful procession in Osogbo, the state capital at the weekend to demonstrate their supports to Aregbesola’s administration and assured the governor of their unalloyed loyalty.
The NUP Chairman, Prince Rotimi Adelugba said the pensioners were grateful to Aregbesola for his magnanimity and cautioned other retired civil servants in the state not to play dirty politics with the issue of the payment of the pension by the state government.
He said “The state government set up a committee headed by a veteran labour leader and former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Hassan Sumonu to fine-tune the issue of salary and pension payment in the state and suggest the best approach to the salary and pension issues in the state”.
“The committee comprised leaders of labour unions in the state and after a comprehensive analysis of the financial situation of the state, the committee proffered a way forward and we all saw reasons to accept the recommendation of the committee in the best interest of the generality of the workers, pensioners and the good people of our dear state”.
“We all agree that the state government should not downsize because we didn’t want any worker in the state to be sacked. Therefore, the only option we had was to agree with the modulated salary scheme in which the junior officers from level 01 to level 07 would get their full salary but the senior staff from level 08 and above would be earning half of their salary and the same thing applicable to the pensioners”.
“It was agreed that the modulated salary would be revisited once the economy of the state improves and that was exactly what Governor Aregbesola did recently when the modulated salary scheme was reviewed upward. The governor has never reneged in this arrangement but some retirees allowed politicians to use them to embarrass the state and that was unfortunate”.
“Though, we also need the money but we realised that we must show understanding since we also know the financial status of Osun State government. The state government has paid up our pension up till December 2016. We are aware that the payment of pension gulp N9.4 from the coffers of the state government and this is commendable”.
He said the retirees in the state want more from the state government and urged the governor to sustain the payment of their monthly pension. He also urged the governor to create special units in all state hospital where senior citizens including the pensioners would be attended to when they need medical attention.
“We also commend our dear governor Aregbesola for his love for the workers and the pensioners in the state. The governor paid the backlog of the arrears of 142 per-cent of pension increase to eligible pensioners. We are grateful to Governor Aregbesola for jacking up the monthly pension bill from N200 million to 600 million”, the NUP chairman said.
The retirees terminated the procession at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park and held special prayers in Islamic and Christianity ways. They offered prayers for Osun State and Nigeria and sought the intervention of God on the economic recession that has bedevilled the nation in which Osun state was not exempted.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Rauf Aregbesola who was invited to the venue by the pensioners as a special guest expressed delight that a huge number of retirees in the state acknowledged his commitment to their welfare and assured them that the New Year would be better than last year.
The governor said “we implemented 142 per cent increase in pension which other rich and buoyant states including Lagos has not implemented. No state government has paid as much as we have paid pensioners in Osun. I paid 9.5 billion to pensioners alone.”
Our various governments (past and present) in this country are not wicked and selfish, within the limit of the available resources they have paid gratuities and pension arrears in bulk and some in installments that would help pensioners to build or buy their own houses with their pension arrears paid.
Aregbesola has paid Osun pensioners gratuities and pension arrears that, by the grace of God, were still alive to collect and enjoy their pension arrears which may enable them to own their own houses in their life time after working for many years without being able to build houses of their own!
In short, Aregbesola’s sensible position was that payment of arrears of pensions and gratuities should never be staggered.
The reasonable thing Aregbesola has done is the payment to the pensioners, a lump sum of the arrears of their pensions and most delayed gratuities at once.
As Christmas and the New Year festivities were fast approaching, Osun workers and pensioners had prepared to face the gloom of unpaid salaries and pensions, but in December 2016, thanks to the Paris Club refund that enabled the government clear salary and pension arrears according to agreement, Osun Pensioners enjoyed themselves to no limit with their families
It was based on this that, the group of pensioners, Triangular Pensioners Forum led by Mr. Rotimi Adelugba, organised a big party to thank the governor for paying the pensions and gratuities of retirees in the state. Adelugba said at the event, attended by Aregbesola, that the governor had paid a total sum of N9.4bn as pensions and gratuities. He urged members of the public to ignore the ‘propaganda’ of those trying to discredit the governor.
By Inwalomhe Donald
Inwalomhe Donald wrote in from Benin, Edo State.