By Richard Akintade, Osogbo
An appeal has gone to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State to without further delay, release enough funds to cater for the retirement benefits, modulated salary arrears outstanding and other deductions of pensioners in the state.
The pensioners said they are appalled by the refusal of the Governor and other agencies of government to heed their plight despite series of reminders and efforts made in the past to them.
They threatened to apply legal means should government failed to yield to their demand.
The pensioners, who expressed displeasure over the way and manner they are being treated said Governor Oyetola should apply the same method he adopted to successfully constructed Iconic Olaiya Flyover where over N2billion was expended, to pay their entitlement.
Addressing journalists shortly after a brief peaceful demonstration at the NUJ state council, in Osogbo, on Tuesday, Chairman, Joint Forum of Contributory Pensioners, Comrade Gbenga Oyadare said the government has breached Contributory Pension Scheme Law in reference to sections 5(b) and 7, pages 18 and 19 of the Extant Osun State Contributory Pension Law of 2008.
He advised Governor Oyetola to apply for N50 billions loan to offset their entitlement since he had claimed that the state is incapacitated to raise the fund itself.
“The governor should apply the same method he used to build Olaiya Iconic Flyover bridge where over N2billion was expended to pay the entitlement of pensioners. We have option for the Governor and the option is that he should go and borrow at least a sum of N50 billon to settle our entitlement.”
He accused the former governor of the state and current Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of deducting from their salaries and refusing to remit same, describing Aregbesola’s action as criminal and inhumane.
He, however, appealed to the state government to issue the contributory pensioners, letters of promotions that they were due for, while in the service of the state.
“These promotions should be equally monetized, to give the beneficiaries, a good sense of belonging, while still serving,” he said.
He said the pensioners would have no other option than to take the Osun government to court should their demand and appealed not considered.
“To avoid any legal action, the government should pay the accrued of penal fine of at least 2% on the money deducted from our salaries, including the government counterpart fund it failed to remit to our Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs).
“This is sequel to the state government running foul of the contributory pension law of Osun State as enacted by the parliament in 2008 with reference to sub-section 5b and 7, contained in pages 18 and 19,” he said.
He said it was specified that the state government, inter alia shall ensure that pensioners who leave or retire from the public service of the state receive their terminal benefits as, and when due.
According to him the government has continuously depriving them of their entitlements and thereby making life unbearable for the them and there family.
He was on the opinion that the pension of this relevant law, grossly inadequate and intermittent remittances of government counterpart funds have deprived the contributory pensioners, covered by the dates.
It should be noted that fundings were made in 2018 and 2019 for retired contributory pensioners from 2016 to 2022, six years after retirement.
“We want the state government and general public to note that the leadership of the entire members of the Joint Forum of Pensioners have been treading on the threshold of psychological and intellectual paths, such that our agitations for our well-deserved retirement benefits should not be misconstrued as being used by any political party/group.
“We wish that the government should note that for more than Six years, majority of this category of state retirees have not received a dime as human beings, and Nigerians who had served their state and fatherland diligently for 35 years or 60/65 years of retirement age, we should be entitled to the fruits of our labour.
“The estimated total amount of the half salary arrears owed by the state government to the contributory pensioners, is in excess of N7 billion.
“We served with black hair and we should not be begging with gray hair before we get our entitlement.
“Our members are dying because anytime they remember the millions of naira they contributed while in the service without having access to it they break down. I can count the number of our people that have paralized, the number of people that have been amputated due to diabetes which they could not treat medically because of the fund and I can count the number of our colleagues who have died.
“To be at home six years without payment, this is very pathetic. Many of our children have been rusticated from Osun State University (UNIOSUN) because we could not pay their school fees. Until our entitlement is paid we would continue to shout,” he said.