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Maina derailed when he saw big money — Retirees (2)

•Harrowing life in retirement: They pay us N1,000 monthly pension, make themselves billionaires from our money
Retirees narrate their harrowiong experiences in the concluding part of the report started last week

Oyo: Govt. owes 56 months’ pension arrears

By Ola Ajayi, Ibadan

In Oyo, the state chapter of NUP says most pensioners had become beggars as a result of non-payment of their accumulated pensions running into 56 months.

The Secretary of the chapter, Mr.   Olusegun Abatan, told Sunday Vanguard, that the pensioners in the state, especially retired primary school teachers and local government pensioners, were not happy with the state government for not heeding several complaints and pleas to it.

A cross section of pensioners

“Pensioners in Oyo State, particularly retired primary school teachers and local government pensioners, are not happy. They are being owed between 17 and 56 months of pension. We have made several efforts including writing series of letters to the state government. Yet, the government is not doing anything. We suggested to the government that it should come out with a timetable that would indicate how the payment would be made. But, up till now, the government has not taken any decision”, Abatan said.

“We cannot be happy when some of the pensioners are dead and others are dying on daily basis when there is no money to buy drugs when they are ill. One of us was looking for N600 to treat whitlow but couldn’t get it because he hadn’t been paid for months. His situation deteriorated rapidly, other things followed, he died. It is as bad as that.

“In August 2014, the pension we were being owed was 24 months and we suggested that they should be paying us every month. But government rejected the suggestion. That’s why it accumulated to 56 months. Some pensioners got pension for January 2014 in October this year. And the state government has been paying retired primary school teachers in percentages.

“But when we talk about the months being owed, it varies. In the case of local government pensioners, they are being owed between five months and 20 months. Worst hit local governments are Lagelu and Egbeda. We use this opportunity to plead with the state government to consider the conditions of these aged pensioners who had spent most of their productive years to serve government. When they should sit back and enjoy their old age, it is suffering and hardship due to non-payment of their entitlements”.

On the Maina saga, Abatan said he was among the NUP officials that met him in the course of his career, saying the former Chairman of the PRTT started well, especially when he was in charge of Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pensions Office (CIPPO).

“He did excellently well when he was in charge of pensions at CIPPO. Government thought because he performed well there, he would also do well when he was given a bigger responsibility. But when he got there (PRTT), he saw big money”, he said.

The state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr Bimbo Kolade, could not be reached for his comments on the claims of the NUP Secretary as several calls made to his phone were not answered.

 

Ogun: We have fared well

By Daud Olatunji

In Ogun, the situation of pensioners is one of mixed feelings.

While some have good stories to tell, many tell tale of woes.

The state Chairman of the NLC, Akeem Ambali, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard, however, said the situation improved when the state government received the Paris Club loan refund and bailouts from the Federal Government.

He said the state government used the refund and bailouts to pay pensioners’ gratuities, saying those owed for 2013 were partly paid while those owed for 2014 were fully paid.

“When you compare Ogun to some states in the country, you will discover that the situation is better. It has paid till 2014 but they can do better by approaching banks for soft loans to offset the backlog of the contributory pension”, Ambali said.

“The monthly pension is paid as and when due but it is meagre. It is not out of place to prioritize human development by settling the gratuities up to 2019.

“The backlog of contributory deduction and pension needs to be paid.

“Local government pensioners are going through a lot of problems as a result of which we are suggesting that government should borrow to pay them”.

Also speaking, the President of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees, Ogun State Chapter, Comrade Ayuba Olatunji, said local government pensioners in the state had been abandoned.

Ayuba said gratuities to the category of pensioners had not been paid since November 2011, saying, however, that monthly pension was being paid regularly.

“We have 90 months unremitted contributory pension money”, he added.

On his part, the state Chairman of NUP, Kessington Odukoya, said many pensioners receive a pension as meagre as N2, 000 monthly. Describing the payment as ridiculous, Odukoya explained that government had refused to comply with the regulation that pensions, like salaries, be reviewed every five years.

“I don’t know anywhere all over the world where pensioners are paid an equivalent of N2, 000 monthly except Nigeria”, he said.

 

Ekiti: Pension liability hits N20bn

By Rotimi Ojomoyela

In E kiti, pensioners there said  arrears of gratuities and pensions accruing to them totalled N20 billion.

Giving a breakdown of the indebtedness, the state Chairman of the NUP, Mr Ayo Kumapayi, said, as of September 2017, local government pensioners were owed N10.8 billion while the state’s civil service pensioners were owed N8.9 billion, totalling N19.7 billion in pensions and benefits.

According to him, pensioners in the state are owed eight months pension arrears, while local government pensioners are owed nine months’ arrears.

Retired civil servants in the state, according to him, were paid March pension last month while those in local government received February pension in October too.

Also, a group known as Concerned Local Government Pensioners’ Forum urged the state government to accord pensioners’ welfare utmost priority.

The Coordinator of the group, Alhaji Quadri Oguntuase,  expressed dismay at the condition of retirees in the state whom, he said, served diligently in the prime of their lives only to be consigned to poverty and hardship in their aged years.

Oguntuase said: “The situation has become unbearable for us and we have no option that to cry out for the world to know that we, pensioners, are suffering in Ekiti.

“The rate at which our members are dying is alarming and imagine the harvest of deaths in the last two weeks. Seven of our members died within the period and the situation was caused by non-payment of our benefits. Because our monthly pension is not paid, many of us lack money to eat and to take care of our families. The denial of our rights has made many of us to become irresponsible fathers and husbands at home.

“In fact, many of those who died had no money to buy drugs to manage their ailments or to take themselves to hospital. Things are as bad as that and we want the state government to look for ways to pay us our pensions and gratuities. We believe it is not an offence to diligently serve our fatherland; government should not watch while we suffer because our entitlements are our rights that we should not be denied of. Therefore, we wish to suggest that Ekiti State government should, between now and December 2018, focus attention on workers’ emoluments to enable them perform their statutory duties effectively.”

 

Osun: N5b debt; pensioners’ leaders say  1, 000  members dead

By Gbenga Olarinoye, Osogbo

In Osun, even before the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, the song on the lips of pensioners, who are owed several years of arrears of pensions and gratuities, has been, ‘Save our soul’.

The state government, during the administration of Olagunsoye Oyinlola, was unable to pay the gratuities of the senior citizens, not to talk of pensions, from 2008 till Aregbesola took the mantle of leadership on November 27, 2010.

Aregbesola promised to offset the gratuities and pension arrears at the inception of his first tenure but didn’t, blaming the situation on paucity of funds.

The administration then introduced the payment of half pension arrears which it called modulated payment.

The new regime commenced amid demonstrations against the state government to ensure that full pensions were paid.

In January, this year, the retirees’ protest took a twist when they formed an ‘Internally Displaced Pensioners Camp’ in Osogbo, the state capital.

Aregbesola accused the protesting pensioners of being used to undermine his government, but the retirees fired back, saying the camp was set up to facilitate assistance from members of the public as they had been unable to feed themselves and their families due to the failure of the government to pay them.

The Chairman of the Forum of 2011/2012 Retired Public Servants of Osun State Branch of the NUP, Comrade Omoniyi Ilesanmi, said the state government owed them 13 months’ arrears.

Ilesanmi claimed that over 1,000 retirees from the state had died due to lack of money to fend for themselves and get good medical attention, saying the state government was yet to pay them gratuities from 2008 to 2012.

But the state governor said his government was not insensitive to the plight of pensioners.

Aregbesola explained that the government was incapacitated to pay the pensioners gratuities which he put at about N5billion.

He called on the Federal Government to assist state governments to raise bonds to pay the gratuities of pensioners who voluntarily retired from service to avoid the Contributory Pension Scheme.

“It started with a drop of about N600 million and it later jumped toN1bn. If we could not meet up in 2012, how could we do it in 2013 or 2014 when things were getting tougher? Or is it going to be now when there is still a lot of instability in the crude oil market?”, the governor said.

Aregbesola said the call for FG’s intervention in the payment of pensioners through provision of bonds became imperative because state governments were under serious financial burden.

According to Aregbesola, the bonds, to be paid back by the state governments with ease, will go a long way in relieving the states of financial burden, ensure prompt payment to pensioners and boost the nation’s economy as money will be in circulation.

The governor disclosed that a lot of states across the federation, who had joined the Contributory Pension Scheme, were finding it difficult to offset the huge gratuity of pensioners accumulated as a result of the mass exodus from service because they did not want to join the new pension regime.

 

Benue: Monthly pension as low as N1, 000

By Peter Duru

In Benue, while state pensioners enjoy prompt payment of their entitlements, local government pensioners have a backlog of unpaid entitlements which they claimed were inherited.

Speaking on the development in Makurdi, the state capital, Comrade Mike Vember, the Chairman of Coalition of Local Government Retires/Pensioners, urged the state government to pay more attention to the plight of local government pensioners.

Vember said, “Generally, I would not say we local government pensioners are neglected but more attention has to be paid to the issue of local government pensioners in Benue State particularly in the local governments.

“This is because we are the least paid people in the state. There are pensioners that are paid N1, 000 per month, like pensioners who retired in the 70s because of the salary structure then.

“Why I am saying that government should pay more attention to our people is because the money government needs to offset all pension entitlements is less than N1billion.

“For instance, state pensioners take about N450million while local government pensioners take about N355milllion. So, cumulatively, what government needs to pay all pensioners in the state is not up to N900million.

“The state government pensioners are complaining of being owed about eight months which was carried over from the last administration.

“The former government did not pay them for eight months and Ortom has been battling to pay the money.

“For local government pensioners, the situation is not as rosy. When Governor Samuel Ortom took over, he decided to implement pension for those who were on the ground for eight years without being enlisted for pension. What he met was arrears of between 53 and 70 months outside of gratuities.

“To add to this, even those who were captured by Ortom from February 2016 were later dropped from June 2016 because of lack of funds occasioned by the peak of the recession. Meanwhile, the government has started paying them from July 2017 but that has also created another backlog. The fact is that payment of pensioners has become like an albatross”.

“The situation is that at the moment out of 4,900 local government pensioners about 2,700 of us are being owed between 53 and 70 months backlog and this is outside unpaid gratuities. Though we know that the situation was not created by this administration, we all appreciate the efforts of the administration to tackle the problem headlong; we plead that the effort should be sustained”.

On the Maina saga, Vember described it as unfortunate and painful.

“It is quite painful because pensioners are people who have served the country at different levels and they have become old and need every kobo to maintain and sustain themselves and their families. So, if you steal the money, you are indirectly telling pensioners to go and die. You are also tampering with their family set up because they will not be able to cater for their families. So the implication on the lives of pensioners is huge. Government must find a way of recovering the stolen money so that it can be used to pay pensioners while ensuring that those fingered in the alleged fraud are prosecuted.”

To Mrs. Helen Adom, from Makurdi local government area, and Treasurer of the Coalition of Local Government Retirees/Pensioners, the condition of local government pensioners deserved greater attention.

“Government has to do something about it”, Adom said.

On his part, Mr. Samuel Atsuku, an octogenarian from Tarka local government area, pensioners should be treated as senior citizens that they are and paid their entitlements as obtainable in other parts of the world. “It is our right and not a privilege because we have served this country conscientiously and deserve our pension which is what helps us to cater for our families and also purchase drugs that help us sustain our lives”, Atsuku said.

 

Kwara: Pension is N2,850 per month

BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI

In Kwara State, pensioners are seen in public places such as petrol stations, bus stops and event centres with identity cards, begging for alms.

In other instances, they tell stories of the need to buy prescribed drugs to be able to live.

The Secretary of the state chapter of NUP, Comrade Abayomi Ajibola, told Sunday Vanguard that the state government was not owing pensioners.

Ajibola, however, said this is so because the pension being paid them was ridiculous. ”We have members who are being paid as little as N2, 850 monthly,’ That is the main reason, they are not owing us”, he said.

He recalled that the development was as a result of the legal battle over deductions from pensioners’ fund that was lost by the state pensioners at the Supreme Court.

The NUP Secretary complained that tax deductions since December 2016 had made the pay even more ridiculous and pleaded with the state government to do something about it.

On his part, the Secretary of the local government chapter of the NUP in Kwara State, Comrade Saidu Oladimeji, said his members were being owed between ten and 13 months depending on the local government.

Oladimeji said efforts made by the union to make the authorities pay them had serially failed, lamenting that his members had been dying as a result of unpaid pension.

‘What shall we do when you worked for a callous government? We have handed them over to God”, he said.

 

Bayelsa: Pension debt  is N28b

By Emem Idio, Yenagoa

In Bayelsa, the state chapter of the NUP stated that government was owing pensioners N26 billion in gratuities and nine months pension while local governments were indebted to the tune of N2billion in gratuities.

The state Chairman of the NUP, Chief Hobbobo, described as worrisome the decision of the state government to impose tax on pensions benefits, saying it was impacting negatively on pensioners.

Habbobo said: “The state has paid up to date with regards to this year’s pension but the arrears of nine months’ pension are still there. The gratuities of pensioners and some other things are still there also.

“Public service has no meaning again, the payment of pension is now a mirage because the burden of debt is too high for any one, some of them (debts) are as much as the state budget for a year, how can they pay? For the past six years some of states have not remitted one kobo to the pension board.

“The state owes pensioners N26billion gratuities while the councils owe N2billion gratuities and when you put all together it is about N28billion.

“At the moment, they (state) have paid our pension up to date; it is nice but the arrears and the tax are matters to be discussed and negotiated. We are pleading through the House of Assembly that government should stop taxing our pension benefits”.

On the alleged misappropriation of pension funds, he said, “The Maina issue is at the federal level and we here are at the state and local government levels. The money he is alleged to have taken, we don’t know the actual source whether it’s for state or local. But anything that affects any pensioner affects all pensioners, so the misappropriation definitely affects us too, because part of the money, as claimed, was meant for state pensioners and, if it does not come, there is nothing the state governments can do. It’s an allegation, let them prove and later tell us about the accomplices because he is not the only one.”

 

Cross River: They have been owing us since 2013 

In Cross River, Comrade Emmanuel Adie Ntamu, the Chairman of the state chapter of NUP, said the issue of payment of gratuities had been lingering in the state. “We have taken our case to the House of Assembly and the Assembly asked for details of those who have not been paid and we submitted the details.   The details gave information on non-payment of gratuities to our members dating back to 2009 and when the Holy Spirit spoke to them, they decided to pay from 2009 to 2012 and a few people who retired in 2013 were paid. That is where they stopped”, Ntamu said.

“From 2013 to 2017, no gratuity has been paid to anyone.

“People retire every day; so it is difficult to say the exact amount we are being owed. Some retirees have pension of N10 million, some N8 million and so on and we are over 500 pensioners that are being owed. If you multiply what everyone is owed, you get the total amount”.

On how his members were faring without gratuities and pension, the NUP Chairman said, “So many of our members have died while waiting for their gratuities. In fact, the one we buried last weekend was from the same polling unit with Governor Ben Ayade. That man went through verification in December 2016 and now he is dead and his family will go through hell to get his gratuity because they have to start the process of screening and presentation of documents afresh and that could take ten years.

“The state government brought some consultants to verify the workers and those who have retired and those still working and the people messed up the whole thing. Nobody said retired civil servants should stay in the city after retirement. Many have gone back to their villages. The consultants did not give adequate information so that those in the villages could hear. When they completed their job, they reeled out high figures as those they have discovered to be ghost pensioners, and when the information got to everyone, when those who were not screened came for verification, they were asked to go to the Accountant General’s Office and the Accountant General directed them to the consultants. So many pensioners were deleted but they are still alive and that is causing another problem as those ones are no more getting pension and gratuity is not forth coming.

“So basically, let the Head of Service, Auditor General and Accountant General be held accountable for whatever lapses are in the system and not hold us liable for their own failures.

 

Kaduna: Former administration owed pensioners N14b

By Ben Agande

Kaduna State stands out an oasis of hope in this vast desert of hopelessness for workers and pensioners. Although the state is not among the top earning states in terms of money accruing from the federation account, deliberate policies have ensured strict fiscal discipline which have in turn guaranteed timely payment of government obligations to both workers and pensioners.

But how was the government able to achieve this when it inherited about N14 billion as arrears of gratuity and death benefits? How is the state able to get its workers paid as at when due when most states in the country are struggling to meet their obligations to the workers?

According to the state Commissioner for Finance, Suleiman Abdul Kwara, the ability of the state government to meet its obligations especially to pensioners was a product of careful planning and focus.

He explained that when the state was paid the Paris Club loan refund, Governor Nasir el-Rufai submitted a supplementary budget to the state House of Assembly to authorize that the money should be used to settle the huge backlog of gratuities and pensions.

“Thankfully, Kaduna State government had no salary arrears, only unpaid gratuities and death benefits inherited from previous administrations. Following the April 2015 elections, the Transition Committee reported that Malam Nasir el-Rufai’s government was inheriting about N14 billion as arrears of gratuities and death benefits”, Kwara said.

“Successive administrations in Kaduna State were unable to pay, or even determine the quantum of gratuities and pensions the state government owed its pensioners. The lax and uncommitted implementation of the old contributory pension scheme compounded the issue”. And to ensure that the issue of unpaid pension and gratuities doesn’t come up in the future, the state government has revived the contributory pension scheme and is meeting its counterpart obligations so that workers will not retire into hunger.

 

Katsina: Ex-govt. left 56 months pension arrears

By Bashir Bello

In Katsina State, the state chapter of the NUP and the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, said pensioners were not being owed. “The previous government owed us 56 months’ pension. But when this administration came, it started paying us 33% every month. So we have no problem about pensions,” the state NUP Chairman, Alhaji Mahabubu Balarabe Abubakar, said.   The state NLC Chairman, Tanimu Lawal Saulawa, also said pensioners had been paid all their entitlements.

The Chairman of the state Local Government Branch of NUP, Usman Mohammed Yar’Adua, equally said his members were not being owed a dime.

 

Anambra: We are not owed a dime

By Vincent Ujumadu

IF there is one thing workers and pensioners have benefitted from the present administration in Anambra State, it is regular payment of salaries, pension and gratuities such that Governor Willie Obiano is nicknamed ‘alert governor’. In fact, pensioners receive payment alert at the same time salary of workers are paid and those retiring from the service start paper work on their gratuities and pension before leaving service, with the result that by their last day in service, their gratuities would have been ready.

The regular payment of pension in Anambra cuts across all segments of the workforce, including retired local government workers. For instance, all workers and pensioners in the state received their October salaries and pensions on the 25th as had been the case for the past three years, and the pensioners also enjoyed the 15% increment made for all workers in the state.

Notable groups that had been favoured by the administration include those who retired from the state –owned Anambra Broadcasting Service, ABS, and the National Light Newspapers who were not scheduled for pension since the creation of new Anamabra State in 1991 but the state government approved pension for them and they have started receiving same.

Similarly, staffers of the moribund State Water Corporation, who were owed salaries since 1991, were paid arrears at a time most of them had lost hope, with some already dead.

Mr. Joseph Nwobi, a pensioner, said he would ever remain grateful to the present administration in the state for consistent payment of the pension especially when it would be recalled that a former governor in the state once described pensioners as dead woods when they protested over non -payment of their pensions between 1999 and 2003.


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