Benue invests N1.5 billion in PenCom account ― Ortom

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said that his administration has invested N1.5 billion in the Pension Commission (PenCom) account.

The governor who spoke to newsmen on Saturday said that the state was targeting N3 billion investment in the PenCom account to enable it to borrow money to clear the pension arrears.

He further said that the state expends N700 million monthly on payment of pensions since the past six months based on an agreement reached between the government and Pension union leaders in the state.

The governor decried the recent protest by pensioners and described it as unfortunate and hoped that the protest may have been politically motivated.

He added that the sum included N400m and N300m monthly payment to the State and Local Government pensioners respectively.

According to the governor, “On the issue of pension, I’m really taken aback. But I think there is a political undertone on this matter. When I came in 2015, I inherited over N70billion arrears of pension, gratuity and salaries. We have been able to reduce that to less than N35 billion as of today. I am the first Governor and administration that has been able to put in place a process that will bring a permanent solution to this problem.

“But I have succeeded in domesticating PenCom law. Already, we have invested more than N1.5billion in the PenCom account. The idea is once we are able to reach up to the N3billion threshold, we will be able to borrow money and clear the arrears and subsequently, all those who are retiring will not have the challenge of waiting for the government to pay them.

“They will go to PenCom and as soon as you’re retiring, you can have your gratuity, you can have your pension. This is the effort that we have done as a government.

“The officials of pensions in Benue State appreciated and commended me but we know we have arrears and we know we have to clear it. As I talk to you, every month, N700million is provided for pensioners for the past six months based on the agreement we reached with the pension union.

“So, for every month, we are able to release N400million for pensioners in the state and at the local government level, we release, N300million. That’s N700million.

“So, I’m really taken aback when I heard that there was a protest after we explained and we agreed that this is what we would do. Mind you, at the local government level, the pensioners are part of the local government allocation account. They are still there.

“The pensioners are there, NULGE is there, National Union of Teachers (NUT) is there. So, it is not like somebody is taking money somewhere and not paying them or shortchanging them. But that notwithstanding, these are our fathers and mothers.

“Maybe they were not adequately informed by the officials of the union. I’ll make effort and persuade the officials of the union to tell them the agreement that we have reached.

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