RETIREES PLIGHT IN OSUN: CDWR calls for full payment of gratuities, pension contributions and over 30-months’ arrears of half-pensions and half-salaries
Labour leaders must organize and mobilise retirees and workers for action
By Kola Ibrahim
The conditions of public sector retirees in Osun State call for concern. The retirees under the state government are suffering, no thanks to the deliberate maltreatment by the Osun State government. Currently, Osun state government has refused to fully pay the gratuities of retirees on government enrolment, who retired since 2012, while those on contributory pension have not been paid their entitlement since 2015. Rather than pay full gratuities of retirees, the government is making mess of the gratuity by paying just tiny fraction of the gratuity (between N100,000 and N200,000 out of millions of naira) to selected few of the retirees, while others wait endlessly for their pittance.
Even before this pittance is paid, many of the retirees have already been pushed into debts and want. Many cannot fund their children’s education or pay for their healthcare; a situation that is worsened by the commercialization of education and healthcare in Osun State and nationally. For instance, school fees in the Osun State University goes for as high as N400,000, while medical services in Lautech Teaching Hospital, owned and operated by the state government are as costly, if not costlier than, any privately-owned hospital in the state. Anytime the government decides to copy any fraction of the gratuity, it is usually turned to political propaganda. Its regrettable that the government will be maltreating its retirees, who committed their adult lives to serving the society. Added to this is the over 30 months’ arrears of half-pension the government owe retirees.
Just like the retirees under the payroll of the state government, the retirees on the contributory pension who retired since 2015 have been denied their entitlements by the government. In fact, the government has refused to pay its counterpart fund for the contributory pensions, which means that the interests that should have accrued to the pensioners’ retirement account have been lost. At a point, the government, especially under the Aregbesola government, aside failing to pay its share of pension contributions, refused to remit pension deductions from workers’ salaries to their retirement accounts with their Pension Fund Administrators. These illegal and insensitive actions have continued under the leadership of Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, who was the Chief of Staff to the past governor. The little payment offered by the government in form of bond to some retirees on contributory pension a little drop in an ocean unfulfilled promises, as it only covers a tiny fraction of retirees.
While the government is impoverishing its retirees on one hand, politicians, business acolytes and sycophants of the government on the other hand continue to live off extravagantly on state resources. The same state government that cannot pay its retirees is paying its over bloated appointees millions of naira in emoluments, aside other juicy perks of office. Indeed just few months’ emoluments of political office holders will offset the arrears of gratuity of many retirees. Also, the same state government that cannot pay retirees, finds it convenient to commit as much as 60 percent of the state federal allocations to paying interests on bogus loans procured to fund many bogus projects and contracts under the Aregbesola government. Many of the projects and contracts have either been abandoned or uncompleted, yet the state used public funds, procured through questionable loans, to pay for these projects. The same government that cannot pay retirees their legitimate gratuities, prefers to pay for abandoned and uncompleted projects and contracts. This is really terrible.
We in CDWR demand that the government stop its ill-treatment of retirees either on government payroll or on contributory pension. We call for full payment of gratuities of government-enrolled retirees and end to payment of pittance that make non-sense of retirees’ gratuity. We demand that the government offset its counterpart fund for contributory pensions of retirees on contributory pension system, with interests. All unremitted deductions from workers’ salaries for pensions should immediately be paid into retirees’ retirement accounts with interests. Furthermore, we call on government to pay over thirty (30) months’ arrears of half-salaries and half-pensions owed workers and retirees respectively. We call for full and immediate payment of N30, 000 minimum wage and consequential adjustment for all workers.
Conclusively, we call on labour union leadership in the state and the leadership of the pensioners’ union to take up these demands and mobilise workers and retirees for civil and democratic mass actions, to pressure government to accede to these demands.