July 12, 2020

Ekiti PDP, Fayemi in verbal war over pensioners’ gratuities

Kayode Fayemi

Kayode Fayemi

Kayode Fayemi

By Rotimi Ojomoyela – Ado-Ekiti

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State has accused the State Governor,  Dr. Kayode Fayemi of working in concert with a Lagos company, United Capital Plc, to scam pensioners in the state of N6 billion.

The party described the State Government’s new scheme, in which pensioners desirous of getting their gratuities and pensions are made to sign-off 15 per cent of their entitlements as wicked, callous and fraudulent.

In a statement on Thursday, by the PDP Caretaker Committee Secretary,  Prince Diran Odeyemi,  the party blamed Governor Fayemi for the accumulated pensions and gratuities in the State,  saying “During his first tenure when Ekiti State was receiving as much as N7 billion as monthly allocation and over N46 billion from the Excess Crude Account, Fayemi refused to pay retirees.

He stopped allocating funds to the Pension Transition Arrangement Department in July 2012.

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The party asked further, “We want to ask Governor Fayemi if contractors in the State who are being paid with borrowed funds are also made to part with 15 per cent of the contract sum as a condition to get paid”.

“When Governor Fayemi returned as governor in 2018, he introduced favouritism to the payment of entitlements of the retiree, as he chose to pay retired Permanent Secretaries who retired in 2018 and 2019, with gratuities ranging between N12 million and N15 million and monthly pension running to over N400,000 each,  while the junior ones, who are the most vulnerable with gratuity not more than N2 million and monthly pension less than N30,000 were left unpaid.”

Odeyemi disclosed that the State Government was going to borrow over N40 billion to pay the pensioners, asking; “If a government is borrowing money that will be repaid by the pensioners and other indigenes of the State,  including those yet unborn, how sensible is it to still make the pensioners part with 15 per cent of their entitlement?”

He accused Governor Fayemi of seeking to eat from the sweat of the pensioners, alleging a suspicion that the governor will be getting 10 per cent out of the 15 per cent to be deducted from the pensioners’ entitlement.

“We have been reliably informed that the 10 per cent, which amounts to over N4 billion is to be paid into an offshore account owned by a crony of the governor,” he alleged.

The Ekiti PDP Caretaker Committee Secretary disclosed that; “Proforma Forms will be made available to all retirees in the State in which they will be asked to choose deduction of either zero, five, 10 or 15 per cent. Retirees that do not pick the 15 per cent deduction option will be excluded from the payment.

While reiterating that Governor Fayemi was the architect of the present problems being faced by pensioners in Ekiti State, the PDP said even during the government of Ayodele Fayose, that the economy was extremely bad and the State was unable to meet most of its obligations, N10 million was being released to the Pension Transition Arrangement Department monthly.

“To us in the PDP,  it will amount to the peak of wickedness and selfishness for Governor Fayemi to profit from his own inhumanity to the pensioners and this new scam of making the poor pensioners to part with 15 percent of their entitlements for his own personal benefits will fail.”

Reacting, the Special Adviser to Governor Kayode Fayemi on  Investment, Mr. Akin Oyebode, had while appearing on a  programme in Ado Ekiti explained that  Ekiti has paid the pensioners  N1.2 billion out of over N14 billion owed, by paying N100 million monthly to defray the backlog of pension and gratuity arrears.

The Special Adviser, said Governor Fayemi jacked-up monthly payment of the arrears from N10 million being paid by Governor Ayodele Fayose to N100 million monthly, saying this indicated that the governor has the interest of the pensioners at heart and has no reason whatsoever to dupe them as alleged by the opposition.

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Oyebode said the issue of COVID 19 has reduced the Federal allocation accruing to the state and it was becoming practically impossible to pay pension and gratuity, this he said was responsible for why a  special arrangement was made to pay the outstanding arrears with those who have the interest of collecting whatever due to them now parting with 15 percent of the money.

“Governor Kayode Fayemi was not happy that people worked for 35 years without collecting what is due to them. The governor said with payment of N100 million monthly, some of the pensioners might not take their benefits till they die and that informed the reason why we deliberated at the executive council to bring an investor to pay the money at once.

“Under this arrangement, what we intend to do is to bring an investor to pay the money to an individual once with 15 percent deduction, but those who want to stick with monthly payment won’t suffer any deduction, they will be collecting it on tranches until it is paid. It is voluntary.

“But a pensioner might even negotiate for one or two years spread in payment and if that one is adopted, the percentage of the deduction will be lower. The 15 percent is for those who want the money paid at once and it is not compulsory.

“We have not spent up two years, we have paid N1.2 billion unlike those who spent four years and paid like N440 million out of the arrears owed . We are determined to make them happy.

“But we are assuring our pensioners that whatever arrangements we are putting in place shall involve all their members. They will all participate in the arrangements and the best method that will make them happy shall be adopted”, Oyebode said.