Following the non-payment of gratuities and pension which run into billions of naira, the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, has dragged the state government to court.
Speaking yesterday at a press conference at its secretariat, a copy of which was made available to Insight Oyo, its chairman- Pa Gbadegesin Akande, said Governor Abiola Ajimobi has changed from good to bad since they honoured him with the ‘Best Governor’ award towards the tail end of his first term in office.
Below is the text of the statement:
“NIGERIA UNION OF PENSIONERS, OYO STATE COUNCIL HAS FINALLY TAKEN OYO STATE GOVERNMENT TO COURT, OVER UNPAID N42.3 BILLION IN GRATUITIES AND PENSION” AN ADDRESS READ BY THE STATE CHAIRMAN OF THE UNION, PA. GBADEGESIN AKANDE ON MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2018 AT THE UNION’S SECRETARIAT, AGBARIGO, IBADAN.
Gentlemen of the Press, beloved Comrades of our Union, it is quite unusual for any Union or organization to hold Press Conferences within 5 days except there is a serious issue at stake. It is important to take this gathering and those out there on a sorry path pensioners, particularly retired Primary School Teachers and Local Government Pensioners have had to travel in the last seven years of the present administration of His Excellency, Senator Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi.
This Government came on board on May 29, 2011 at a time the Alao-Akala government refused to pay the arrears of 142% pension increase which had earlier been implemented. All entreaties to Alao-Akala’s government to pay this arrears and other entitlements fell on deaf ears. The Union resorted to going to the court. It was this court case that Senator Abiola Ajimobi met and entered a memorandum of understanding to address with the imprimatur of the Court. However, while certain portions of the document were implemented, other areas like the payment of arrears of 6% and 15% had not been addressed. This matter concerned State Pensioners only.
At the Local Government level, retired Primary School Teachers and Local Government Pensioners held the short end of the stick and right from the inception of this government this category of Pensioners have been meted subhuman measures. When former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala was leaving office on May 28, 2011, retired Primary School Teachers were owed just 1 month of pension and N2,884,066.960.30 (two billion, eight hundred and eighty-four million, sixty-six thousand, nine hundred and sixty naira and thirty kobo or N2.9 billion) in unpaid pensions and gratuities. At the change of baton with the present government, payment of gratuities, pensions and death benefits became a serious issue such that the present administration alone owed the retired Primary School Teachers a whopping N27,511,010,481.25 (twenty-seven billion, five hundred and eleven million, ten thousand, four hundred and eighty one naira and twenty-five kobo or N27.5 billion). This humongous figure showed that government did not pay attention to the payment of gratuities and pensions of retired Primary School Teachers between 2011 to 2018. During this period Retired Primary School Teachers were paid in percentages of 10, 8, 32, 50 etc. of their pensions. Aside 5-56 months of unpaid pension, retired Primary School Teachers have just been paid JUNE 2017 pensions.
With regards to Government’s indebtedness during Adebayo Alao-Akala’s regime to retired Local Government Staff, N1,852,674,974.19 (one billion, eight hundred and fifty-two million, six hundred and seventy-four thousand, nine hundred and seventy-four naira and nineteen kobo or N1.9 billion) was owed the Local Government retirees, but during the administration of Senator Abiola Ajimobi, N10,094,911,107.77 (ten billion, ninety-four million, nine hundred and eleven thousand, one hundred and seven naira and seventy-seven kobo or N10.1 billion) was owed local government pensioners. Like the case of retired Primary School Teachers, Local Government Pensioners were not paid their pensions and gratuities as when due.
Gentlemen of the Press, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you may wish to ask why these category of pensioners i.e. retired Primary School Teachers and Local Government retirees were singled out for this treatment. The sin of these people was that they were alleged not to have voted for this government in both 2011 and 2015 elections. The Yoruba adage says, “Ore ni a ma nwa k’ore ao ki nwa ota kun ota” translated to “It pays to court friendship than enmity.” Another adage says that somebody that did not do well to you today need not be condemned, he could do better things for you in the future. Pray, Nigeria is at the throes of another election in 2019, how do you assuage the feelings of over 16,000 retired Primary School Teachers and Local Government Pensioners and their dependants and friends to vote for a government that had turned them into nonentities? Gentlemen of the Press, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is trite to state that governance is a continuum and any government in power inherits both assets and liabilities. The wicked stance of not pay the retired Primary School Teachers and Local Government Pensioners their entitlements from 2011-2018 by Senator Abiola Ajimobi’s government on an unsubstantiated allegation that they did not vote for him had raised the tally of government’s indebtedness to these two categories of pensioners to a whopping N42,342,663,522.96 (forty-two billion, three hundred and forty-two million, six hundred and sixty-three thousand, five hundred and twenty-two naira and ninety-six kobo or N42.3 billion). In a related development, Oyo State Government also owes another twenty-six billion naira (N26 billion) in gratuities and arrears of 6% and 15% to Oyo State Pensioners and Pensioners from Tertiary Institutions and Parastatals. Government officials are quick to always insinuate that it was as a result of the theft of N6.5 billion at the Local Government Ministry that government was unable to pay these hapless pensioners their pensions and gratuities. It is important to make clarification over the so-called theft. In the first instance, it did not happen during the present regime, second if you are owing N42.3 billion and you could not account for the stolen N6.5 billion naira, why don’t you pay the remaining N35.8 billion if the welfare of these pensioners are paramount to you? Third, the first term of this government was so rosy that for three years it was paying 13th month salaries to workers. Aside that such a largesse was not extended to any Pensioner in the State, government did not see it fit to address the plight of retired Primary School Teachers and Local Government Pensioners in those three years of plenty.
The Union had written uncountable number of letters, held several press Conferences and protests. To this government, our protests are entertaining drama. To the effect of government’s insensitivity to the plight of retired Primary School Teachers and Local Government Pensioners, our Union has decided to take Oyo State Government to court over unpaid N42.3 billion in gratuities and pensions. Notices of the court action had been served His Excellency, Governor Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi, the Attorney-General of the State, the Head of Service, The Commissioners of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Commissioner of Finance, Chairman Local Government Service Commission and Accountant-General of the State this morning. You will all be notified when we shall have our day in court.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, you may rightly want to ask that given all the avalanche of problems like these why did we give Governor Abiola Ajimobi the award of the “Best Governor in the history of Oyo State”. There are two major reasons our Union gave that award. First, he paid the arrears of 142% pension increase (though as a result of court’s intervention) which other past governors were not favourably disposed to. Second and the most important was to appease him and take his mind from the fixation that retired Primary School Teachers did not vote for him and as such should suffer for it. The aftermath of the award particularly during the second term of this administration has been agony, grief and tribulation to members of Union.
However, it would be puerile for us, as senior citizens, to withdraw that award. We would leave His Excellency, Governor Abiola Ajimobi to his conscience and God if he had done well to the retired Primary School Teachers and their Local Government colleagues! I thank you all.