BY MOYINOLUWA BAMIDELE-LUCAS
The Nigeria Union of Pensioners in Ogun State Chapter has faulted the claim by Governor Dapo Abiodun that he had paid over N70 billion for gratuity arrears and pensions since he assumed office in 2019.
The Chairman of NUP, Waidi Oloyede, said this on Wednesday while addressing newsmen in Abeokuta, saying, Abiodun only paid N3 billion for gratuity since he assumed office in May 2019.
Abiodun had claimed that over N70 billion had been released for the payment of gratuity arrears since he assumed office in 2019.
The governor said this during the Town Hall Meeting on the 2023- 2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and 2023 Budget for Ogun East Senatorial District held in Ijebu-Ode.
The governor also said he had increased the quarterly payment from N500m to N600m to defray outstanding gratuities
Oloyede, however, explained that the N3 billion when calculated “could not pay gratuities of those who retired during Abiodun’s tenure, from June 2019 till date.”
The NUP Chairman also expressed concern that the N100 million increment to the N500 million quarterly payment for gratuities was not enough, lamenting that it would take more than 30 years to clear the backlog of gratuities.
He said, “It is very disheartening to note that his Excellency, Dapo Abiodun would make such a statement to the whole world at that forum, insinuating perhaps that the pensioners are being ungrateful to his acts of kindness at paying our monthly pensions which is not enough to feed most retirees talk less of taking care of the health challenges.
“The question arising from the credited statement is, are we as pensioners no longer entitled to monthly pensions? Is Governor Abiodun doing us (pensioners) any favour by paying pensions? Do mainstream workers not receive salaries monthly? Why did he not state the amount paid to the mainstream workers? Does it infer that pensioners are getting more than they deserve from his administration? Is pensioners’ wage bill more than that of the mainstream workers and all political appointees (commissioners, special advisers, Liaison officers, consultants, etc) all put together?”
Oloyede noted that unlike Abiodun, Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, had paid N15 billion for gratuities in his first release, Governor Seyi Makinde paid N18.5 billion, while Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto “cleared 20 years gratuities and pensions backlog.”
Oloyede said, “How far will the N600 million quarterly gratuity just announced will go? Many pensioners received the September 2022 pensions on the 18th of October 2022, and do not know when that of October 2022 will come. It has never been this bad in the history of Ogun State, whereas Governor Seyi Makinde pays pensions on the 25th of each month.
“Pensioners are dying in droves on a daily basis for lack of good health care requiring financial redemption.
“It is unfair, coming from a Governor and directed against the Senior citizens that have served meritoriously for decades of which the take-home of many is barely N5, 000.”
He called on Governor Abiodun “to pay all our entitlements and effect consequential Adjustment of pensions, then he can extol himself before the whole world as a pensioner friendly governor.”
When asked if Abiodun had lied on the N70 billion payment, Oloyed responded that “One thing you have to understand is that he has given the total amount he has paid to the pensioners, and only him can explain how he arrived at N70 billion, but as far as our own record is concerned, only N3 billion has been paid for the gratuity.”
Governor Abiodun had said on Tuesday last week that his administration has paid over N70 billion as gratuity and pension to retirees in the last three and a half years.
The governor who stated this at Ijebu-Ode, during a Town Hall Meeting on the 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and 2023 Budget for Ogun East Senatorial District, also said the quarterly payment for pensioners had been increased from N500 million to N600 million.
The governor who took a swipe at the previous government for failing to pay the retirees their entitlements, said the amount was huge, but his administration was doing the needful to ensure our retirees enjoy the fruits of their hard work.
He assured workers that their entitlements ranging from global deductions, leave bonuses and others, would be paid as the finances of the state improves.
The governor also disclosed that that the state generated over N70 billion from January to September this year as Internal Generated Revenue (IGR), saying the various policies put in place and the influx of investors, have increased the internal revenue of the state.
He said, “Some few days ago, someone sent me a video of an indigene of the State in Diaspora who claimed that the IGR of the state is on the decline. I can tell you that as of today, Ogun State IGR from January to September is over N70 billion.
“Last year, our IGR was over N100 billion. So how can someone claim that our IGR is declining? This claim is false.”