Retired civil servants in Osun, under the aegis of Forum of 2011/2012 Pensioners on Tuesday protested against the failure of the state government to pay 15 months backlog of pension and gratuities.
The pensioners, who converged on Ayetoro junction, Osogbo, the state capital matched to the popular Olaiya junction, denouncing what they termed insensitivity of Governor Gboyega Oyetola administration to their plights.
Armed with various placards with inscriptions such as “Oyetola Pay Our Gratuity”, Oto ge, Our Children Are Out of School”, Pay Our Entitlements from Recent Released Paris Club Refund, Don’t Divert it”, among others, the pensioners numbering over 600 caused gridlock along the dual carriageway to Olaiya junction.
Addressing journalists during the protest, the leader of Forum of 2011/2012 Pensioners, Pa Yemi Lawal maintained became expedient following information that the state government had been paid N6.3 billion had been as the last tranche h of the Paris Club Refund.
He said they had to voice out and demand for the payment of the backlog of their entitlements before the Paris Fund is diverted to other use, without their arrears being settled.
He said they resolved to stage their protest, having written four letters to the state governor, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, one of which was to inform him of the payment of their entitlements, but the governor had not responded to their letter.
According to Lawal, “our demands are very constitutional and simple. We are being owed accumulated pension arrears of 15 months. This is the outcome of half payment of 30 months pension. We suppose to collect cheque for our gratuity the very week we left service. Up till now, Aregbesola and Oyetola bluntly refused to pay our gratuity.”
“Instead, they resorted to instalment payment of ₦100,000 each to pensioners who are entitled to collect ₦5 million, ₦6million. President Muhammadu Buhari has graciously done enough for workers and pensioners. He released special funds to state governments to pay workers’ salary arrears and gratuities of pensioners in form of bailout.”
“Osun State during Aregbesola’s regime received ₦38.5 billion. But, Aregbesola refused to pay pensioners and workers from the fund. He said he would rather return the money instead of using it to pay pensioners and workers. We asked him to return the money, but he didn’t return it.”
“Aregbesola also collected budget support fund ₦14.8 billion, Paris refund of tranche 1 to 3, nothing was done by his government to alleviate our sufferings by paying our gratuities and pension.”
Recently, the state government received ₦6.3 billion and the current governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola who is aware of our plights did not say anything”, Lawal remarked.
Reacting over the protest, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Oyetola, Mr Adeniyi Adesina said: “the state government has not collected any Paris Club refund.”
He stated, “it is an absolute falsehood for any group of people to be claiming that some amount of intervention fund has been made available to the Governor Adegboyega Oyetola administration.”
“Paris Club refund or any refund in any form is never secretly disbursed. Such payments are publicly announced. Governor Oyetola at the inception of his administration promised to run a transparent government. He is not going to renege on this”, Adesina asserted.