The Oyo State government has restated its commitment to the welfare of workers and pensioners in the state.
It said that it has released the sum of N6.2 billion for the payment of June, July and August salaries for primary school teachers in the state and N250 million for the payment of gratuity of retired primary school teachers.
The government equally stated that the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) has vacated the 14-day ultimatum given to the state government over the payment of their pensions and gratuities, adding that it has earlier released N880 billion for retired primary schools teachers’ pensions.
The state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr Bimbo Kolade, disclosed these while briefing newsmen after a stakeholders meeting with the State Executive Council of NUP led by its Chairman, Mr Gbadegesin Akande and Secretary, Mr Segun Abatan, at the Government Secretariat, on Thursday, in Ibadan.
The pensioners at the meeting, which was attended by representatives of the ministry, local government chairmen, Local Government Staff Pensions Board and the two banks in charge of pension payment, said they were satisfied with the agreement reached between the government and the union and thereby withdrew the 14-day ultimatum given to the state government.
The commissioner said the action taken by the union was uncalled for and urged them to always dialogue with the government, rather than confronting the government on the pages of newspapers.
According to Kolade, “Governor Abiola Ajimobi is workers’ and pensioners’ friendly. We just paid three months, June, July and August salaries for primary school teachers. Also, his (Ajimobi) disposition toward the pensioners’ welfare that earned him the award of Best Pensioner-Friendly Governor in the history of the state has not changed. He implemented the payment of 142 per cent increase and cleared pension arrears and agreed to the payment of six per cent and 15 per cent pension increase to the groups which honoured him in February 2013.
“We had a peaceful meeting with the executives of Nigerian Union of Pensioners and discovered that there was a communication gap which they indeed realised and they have voluntarily vacated the 14-day ultimatum on their own. I want to clarify that the N880 million released will not be enough to fully pay the pensioners in the state but we have their understanding that things will continue to improve as time goes on.”
Moreover, on the issue of gratuity, Mr Kolade announced that Governor Ajimobi had approved the sum of N250million for the payment of gratuity of retired primary school teachers, adding, “For some years now, there has not been a payment of gratuity to retired primary school teachers in the state. We are all aware of the scam that happened in the Service Pension Board where about N6.8billion was mismanaged.”
The State Commissioner, who appreciated the pensioners for their comportment, support and understanding, said that the Ministry of Local Governments and Chieftaincy Matters is not an independent ministry, emphasizing that, thorough verification of state pensioners would be carried-out in order to know the exact number of retirees owed gratuity in the state.
Responding, the state chairman, Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Mr Gbadegesin Akande stated that he was happy with the outcome of the meeting and consequently apologized to the state government on behalf of the union for their actions.
He therefore assured the pensioners of the government’s commitment to satisfy their predicaments, adding that His Excellency, Senator Abiola Ajimobi is a friend to the pensioners and he (governor) was made the Grand Patron of pensioners in 2015 for his efforts on pensioners’ plights.