Hafsoh Isiaq, Osogbo
Pensioners in Osun State took to the streets in the early hours of Wednesday to protest against the non-payment of their full monthly pension arrears and their 2008-2012 gratuities.
The protest, which took off from Aiyetoro area in Osogbo to the popular Olaiya junction and stopped at the government secretariat Abere, where security personnel were seen monitoring the protest to forestall any uproar.
The Forum of Osun pensioners called on the state government to considered their plights on payment of their gratuities(2008-2012) and 13 months pension arrears.
Chairman of the retirees, Mr Ilesanmi Omoniyi who led the protest said pensioners were yet to be paid their gratuity from 2008 – 2012 , despite the Federal Government intervention releasing over N83. 9 billion to pay backlog of gratuities and areas.
According to him, the money was diverted by the state governor for another purpose which was not used as expected.
Ilesanmi said that over 2,000 of its members had lost their lives as a result of non payments of gratuities and pension arrears.
“Many of our colleagues over 2000 have lost their lives due to the hardship which they were unable to withstand,’ he said.
He added that the forum had been pleading with the state government for over five years but nothing was done rather their plights were ignored.
The Chairman also said retirees were yet to be paid their 13 months pension arrears, making the standard of living difficult to cope with.
He said several letters of appeal had been written to the Governor and other government officials but yet to see any positive answer.
Omoniyi , however , called on President Muhammadu Buhari , to intervened and also urged Governor Rauf Aregbesola to alleviate the suffering they are passing through by paying them their full monthly pension arrears and their 2008-2012 gratuities.
Reacting, Osun State Government described as disturbing and unfortunate, the continued blackmailing and serial attempt to discredit the government by the 2011/2012 forum of pensioners who had taken to habitually lying in pursuit of political goal than real pension matters.
In a statement signed by the state Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr Adelani Baderinwa said the 2011/2012 pensioners group are fraction of those who retired from service in 2012 to avoid being part of the Contributory Pension Scheme.
Baderinwa affirmed that the state government has paid workers and pensioners up to date with the modulated structure agreed opon by the government and the labour unions since 2015. Government does not owe any worker or pensioner based on the modulated payment scheme as the pensioners have alleged.
According to the statement: “we wish to put it on record that Aregbesola increased the amount being paid as pension by 500 per cent in 2011. The nonpayment of gratuity is not peculiar to Osun; and the government has shown its readiness to pay the gratuity as soon as the state finances improve”.
“It is on record that this group of pensioners had at one time or the other in the past lied against the Government of the State of Osun; and in specific reference they had alleged that government collected a tranche of the Paris Club refund and diverted it only to have a whole month wait for the actual release of the fund”.
“In a civilised environment and without motives other than pension matters, the so-called 2011/2012 pensioners forum would have bury their heads in shame and exercise decorum expected of senior citizens to make unfounded allegations once more”.
“Today’s findings have confirm the government’s submission that the 2011/2012 pensioners are politicians and not pensioners. They are in pursuit of political matter. The government’s claim is established with the identification of some opposition card carrying members from a part of the Central Senatorial zone as part of the protesters”, the statement added.