By Shina Abubakar – Osogbo
Over 6,000 pensioners that retired from the service of Osun State Government have on Wednesday said they are being owed retirement benefits, as well as 30 months salary arrears.
Some of the pensioners who thronged streets in Osogbo, the state’s capital protesting against non-payment of their benefit said many of their colleagues were dying of hunger as the fund being released by the state government’s in instalment is too meagre to go round pensioners.
At the State Secretariat, Abere, the pensioners bear placards with various inscriptions like, “we are dying of hunger”, “Masses help us we are dying”, “Dead people cannot enjoy infrastructure”, etc.
They were also singing different solidarity songs urging stakeholders to come to their aid as the state government is punishing them unduly.
Addressing journalists at the Secretariat, the pensioners’ spokesperson, Iyiola Abiodun, said no one among them has collected a dime since 2017 when they retired from service as gratuity, adding that its various meetings with government with a view to resolving the issue has proved abortive.
He also stressed that if the government has failed to pay their gratuity, it should work hard to pay the 30-month salary arrears owed them while in active service to enable them to meet their household demands.
“Those of us owed gratuity are over 6,000 and every month, Government is releasing like N150 million which is only substantial to take care of just 15 individuals out of over 6000. Our people are dying every day.
“The government is not sincere. They’re playing politics with our lives and by the time they pay the N150,000,000, they will announce to the whole world that they have released money to pay pensioners.
“Look at Oyo state government, it released over N8 billion for pensioners unlike what we have here.
“What we are looking for now is our bond and if the government cannot pay our bond, they should pay our thirty months arrears so that we can use the money to survive.
“We do not receive any kobo since 2017 till date but we beg the government to pay our arrears of thirty months. They can even divide the money into four or two and pay us so that we can use it to survive.
“We have met the government more than ten times. I’m one of the coordinators. We always visit them, they will just keep making promises and do not fulfil it.
“We don’t even know whether they pay our deductions to the PFAs. We have not received any alerts from Pension Funds Administration (PFA) since 2015. The state government is not living up to expectation. Let me analyse it for you.
“We are retirees covering 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and we have civil servants, local government staff, primary and secondary school teachers and principals. In fact, we still have those who retired in 2015 and have not gotten anything till date”, he said.
In his reaction, the Secretary to the State Government, Prince Wole Oyebamiji said the gratuities have accumulated over the years but pledged that government would attend to the pensioners’ plight promptly.