I inherited N27bn pension arrears in 2019 — Bauchi gov
A whopping sum of N27 billion was inherited as outstanding pension debt by the present PDP-led administration in Bauchi State when it came on board on 29th May, 2019.
The disclosure was made by the State Governor, Sen Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir disclosing that the immediate past administration led by Mr Mohammed Abubakar did not make any attempt to settle the debt thereby piling it up.
The Governor was speaking when he received the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bauchi State Chapter, Rev. Joshua Ray Maina who led the Christian community in the state to pay him the annual Christmas homage at the Government House on Friday evening.
Bala Mohammed, however, lamented the prevalence of ghost workers in the state saying that the development has given him and his administration hiccups since he assumed office promising that the payroll must be sanitized to get things right henceforth.
The Governor said that, “We have the prevalence of ghost workers but we are working very hard to make sure we free resources in our personnel emoluments within the nominal roll that has been bastardized and full of fraud and we are doing our best.
He added that, “This is one area that is giving me hiccups to be able to make sure that labour has integrity, pensioners are getting their money as and when due and their retirement benefits.”
The Governor added, “We inherited N27 billion retirement arrears from the previous administration even though they got Paris Club, they got bailout money but were not able to settle that. We said we would set aside N100 million every month (to settle the pension arrears) and even that was not achievable because we had to really concentrate on salaries.”
According to him, his administration has never failed to pay workers their salaries or Pensioners their entitlements, however, pointing out that people are suffering because the government is trying to address the prevalence of ghost workers which is evading solutions.
He then assured that by January 2021, the government will come up with solutions to address the menace saying “I have set up several committees but this time around, my Deputy, Speaker and I will head the committees ourselves to make sure we address these once and for all.”
He explained that, “It is not because we don’t have money, we have saved about N500 million from the verification exercise, but it doesn’t make sense to save N500 million and people will be claiming that they have not been paid and in most cases when we address those that have not been paid, we will discover that we have one problem or the other.”
The Governor stressed that, “Either promotion that is not due or conversion that is done irregularly, among others but the public will not know and if we must address, there must be transparency, community engagement.”
Bala Mohammed, however, assured that, “We will not make savings and make people go hungry because they are being subjected to some checks and balances in the system, this is not acceptable.”
Bala Mohammed then commended CAN and Christians in the state for their loyalty, support and love.
Speaking earlier, Bauchi State CAN Chairman, Rev. Joshua Ray Maina applauded the Governor and his deputy for their active roles in managing and mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
He expressed appreciation to the governor for given many Christians various appointive positions in his cabinet noting that it had never happened before in the history of the state.
The CAN Chairman said that, “This is the first government that believes in carrying the Christian folks along in order to come and govern the state with him. I believe he did that without any sentiment or bias.”
He also said that, “At the course of his appointments, he wasn’t looking at whether one is a Christian or a Muslim, he was looking at the citizens of Bauchi State who can help and deliver.”
Ray Maina added that, “However, I would like to call on the Christians that have been given this trust, to ensure that they must be found faithful. It is one thing to be brought on board to govern, it is another thing to remain faithful and deliver without failing the person(s) that appointed you.”
The Christian community during the visit sang songs of praises to God for the successful year 2020 and offered prayers for peace, tranquillity and progress of the state.