BY NDAHI MARAMA, Maiduguri
Borno State government has commenced the payment of about five years gratuities it owes its retirees.
The government has allocated first instalment of N1 billion out of the accumulated over N20 billion for the payment of a substantial number of the retirees, among whom, Vanguard observed, are 40 retired permanent secretaries and other top government officials.
The government suspended the payment of gratuities since June, 2013 due to economic recession, according to the state’s Head of Service, Arch Yerima Saleh, at a news briefing yesterday in Maiduguri.
These gratuities, according to the state’s chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Titus Ababa, accumulated since then to date to over N20 billion.
The delay in the payment of the accumulated gratuities constituted one of the main reasons the state and local government workers and teachers necessitating the NLC to serve the government a notice of the strike action, Mr. Ababa announced at the joint news briefing with the HOS and the state Commissioner for Local Government, Hon. Usman Zannah.
“The state government has commenced the payment of N1 billion out of the accumulated sum; and out of this N1 billion, N500 million is for state government retirees while the other N500 million is divides into two, where N250 million will be paid each to local government retirees and retired primary school teachers,” Arch Saleh said.
“This payment will continue until the allocation is exhausted,” he said, as he thanked Governor Kashim Shettima for allocating the money and directing the immediate payment.
“We appreciate the government for commencing the payment of the gratuities,” the NLC chairman said, continuing, however, “but considering the number of pensioners owed gratuities, N1 billion is inadequate; labour had expected the government to allocate N5 billion to N10 billion.”
He urged the state government to resume the monthly allocation of N150 million for the payment of gratuities, which was stopped in 2013.
Commissioner for Local Government and Emirate Affairs, Usman Zannah called on the retirees, especially at the Local Government level whose gratuities were yet to be paid, to exercise patience as government is doing everything possible to settle all outstanding payments and enhance welfare of its citizenry as soon as possible.