by peter duru
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has apologized to retirees and workers of the state over the inability of successive governments to find a lasting solution to the nagging backlog of unpaid pensions in the state.
The Governor who tendered the apology in Makurdi while flagging off Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, for the state workforce, said the huge pension liabilities he inherited was one of the unpleasant realities his administration had been battling with.
He said “the pension problem was competing for attention with the humanitarian crisis arising from the perennial herder’s attacks as well as other challenges of development and governance.
“Sadly, the challenges pilled with the huge shortfalls from our revenue sources from federal and internal.
As we grappled with the difficult choice of which challenges to prioritize, the occasional demonstration on the streets by the elderly retired workers in pursuit of their benefits served as a constant reminder that the pension problem of the state was one issue that our administration must find solutions to.
Indeed, our initial efforts to address the pension problem through structured payments proved hopelessly inadequate.
The more we released funds for the settlement of the pension liabilities, the more the liabilities grew.
“We have finally come to the conclusion that the Contributory Pension Scheme is the best solution to the state’s pension problem
“Our Pension Reform Law stipulates that the employer (government in this case) shall contribute an additional ten percent of the monthly emoluments of each worker enrolled into the scheme while the workers are to contribute eight per cent of their monthly emoluments into the workers’ retirement savings.
Totally convinced that the Contributory Pension Scheme is the way to go, we have therefore not only mustered the political will to implement it but have also sourced for funds to finance it.”
Earlier, Chairman of Benue State Pension Commission, Mr. Terna Ahua, who commended the administration for the initiative, said the main objective of the scheme was to provide a permanent solution to the issues of delay and nonpayment of pensions and gratuity to retirees.
Three institutions including Benue State University, The College of Health Sciences, and Benue State University Teaching Hospital were selected to kick start the scheme.