…as Ekiti pensioners decry 8 months unpaid pensions, gratuities since 2012
By Olu Ajayi & Rotimi Ojomoyela
EKITI and Oyo states pensioners have pleaded with Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State and his Oyo State counterpart, Abiola Ajimobi, to pay their benefits to save them from untimely death.
While some of the pensioners in Oyo State especially the Primary Schools retirees claimed they have not been paid for over 56 months in addition to gratuities since 2008, those in Ekiti lamented that beside the issue of unpaid pensions, their gratuities have not been paid since 2012.
According to the Secretary of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, in Oyo State, Mr. Segun Abatan, “they are in two categories. We have retired and local government employees. The second category is primary school teachers and local government pensioners. The most traumatized people in the state are the retired primary school teachers who are being owed 56 months unpaid pension. Most of them have not been paid their gratuities since 2008. Imagine a scenario when husband and wife are yet to receive pension for 56 months.
“In such home, there will be hunger, disease and poverty. The total amount they owe us including salaries, pensions and gratuities now is N56billion.”
Meanwhile, the state NUP, has explained the commendation letter it sent to Governor Abiola Ajimobi, saying the pension released last week was for the months of April and May 2017 for only state government pensioners. The union, however, insisted that other categories of pensioners are still being owed several months of pensions and gratuities.
While speaking with Pension and You, Abatan, pleaded with the governor to extend the same kindness to retired primary school teachers who are owed between 17 and 56 months pension and the gratuities. He reiterated that “there are different categories of pensioners in the state. The two months (April and May 2017) pension just released were for state government pensioners alone. But, the retired primary school teachers are owed between 17 and 56 months of pension and also their gratuities were paid last in 2006.”
As for local government pensioners, he said what the government owes them in pension differ from one local government to the other. “In summary, the government is owing local government retirees between 5 and 18 months,” he said. In a commendation letter jointly signed by the State Chairman, NUP, Pa Gbadegesin Akande and the secretary, NUP told the governor to pay other categories of pensioners in the state.
Ekiti Pensioners urge Fayose to pay N20 Billion benefits
Pensioners in Ekiti State have expressed worry over their neglect by the state government, which according to them has inflicted untold hardship and untimely deaths of many of their members. The pensioners who called on Governor Ayo Fayose to pay arrears of gratuities and monthly pensions totalling nearly N20 billion, also advocated a review of their pensions in conformity with Section 210, Sub Section 3 of the 1999 Constitution.
The state Chairman of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Elder Ayo Kumapayi, spoke during the monthly meeting of pensioners in Ado-Ekiti. Advising the governor to focus on welfare of civil servants and pensioners and stop giving priority to capital projects, Kumapayi called on the state government to set up an Advisory Committee to advise it on the disbursement of Paris Club Refund as already done in some states of federation.
Giving a breakdown of the amount owed as at September 2015, Kumapayi disclosed local government pensioners are owed N10.8 billion while state civil service pensioners are owed N8.9 billion totalling N19.7 billion owed as pensions and benefits. “For instance for the civil service pensioners, the government has paid up to December 2016, which means presently the government is owing is Seven month arrears, while our local government counterpart are being owed eight months.
“No gratuity has been paid in this state since 2012, even before the advent of this government, payment of gratuity stoped in July 2012 and the liabilities on ground on this alone is N20 billion. We want our government to focus more attention on the suffering workers and pensioners rather than focusing on capital projects. No matter the roads, bridges or flyovers you build, history will tell you that you are doing it on the blood of senior citizens.
“If you paint the streets with gold and if I am sick, will I be able walk on that road? If you want to make a name (through projects), it should not be during recession like this. If you have nothing to eat, will your wife tell you to buy clothes? Therefore, we wish to suggest that Ekiti State government should between now and October 2018 focus attention on workers’ emoluments in order to enable them perform their statutory duties effectively.
“Similarly, the state government should pay pensioners their pensions and gratuities regularly in order to make them enjoy the fruit of their labour. Our pride as senior citizens who have faithfully, laboriously and dutifully served this nation is being rubbished daily. We are crying and justifiably so in view of our agonies; our sufferings and an unprecedented assault on the psyches of our members in Ekiti State”
Expressing their frustration over the situation of things and plight of pensioners in the state, Elder Ikumapayi, lamented that life had not been easy for pensioners in general because of their unpaid pension arrears. He said: “It is a very sorry situation. Our people are suffering, pensioners are at their old age, they served the country meritoriously and they had no opportunity of trading or doing any other job while they were in service”.
So, they depend solely on pension which is not forthcoming. They have used all their life savings to train their children up to University level. The Children are now at home, no job and still depending on their parents. Unfortunately, their parents have no money to maintain themselves. It has become common to them having stresses, marital problems, and other ailment associated with old age without money to solve these issues.
“Families are now being broken silently because the husband as breadwinner has not got the money to maintain their homes and moreover they can’t pay their hospital bills. In fact, many of them would have survived if they have been able to take care of themselves. Even the amount paid is not enough to sustain them, because we have pensioners who are receiving N4,000 per month. You can imagine such ridiculous amount after 35 years of serving the nation.”
Meanwhile, the Local government pensioners organised a prayer session in Ado Ekiti recently to seek the face of the Lord over the nine months arrears of unpaid pension and backlog of gratuities dating back to 2012
They also cried out over what they described as “high mortality rate” among them over non-payment of their benefits, claiming that many of them had died in the last one year with five dying in the last one month.
According to them, it had become a regular occurrence to hear about the death of colleague who attended previous meetings of their monthly parleys.
Acting on the aegis of Association of Local Government Concerned Pensioners, ALGCP, the aggrieved said lack of money to buy drugs to manage their health challenges and hunger were the reasons why they were dying at alarming rate.
However, Governor Fayose at different forum has vowed to clear all arrears of the pensions before the end of his tenure in 2018.