Unpaid Pensions and Gratuities in Osun State: Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) Supports Protesting Pensioners
* We Condemn the continuous denial of pensioners’ entitlements by the Oyetola-led Osun State government
* We call on labour movement to mobilise workers in support of the pensioners.
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State condemns the continuous failure of the Osun State government under Governor Gboyega Oyetola to pay the outstanding pension and gratuity of retirees of the state public service.
It is a fact that the Osun State government has refused to pay its counterpart funds for the contributory pensions of retirees since 2016, thus denying the retirees, who have committed their prime to serving the state and by extension the country, their entitlements. Worse still, the deductions made from workers’ salaries as their own share of the contributory pensions are not remitted to the pension accounts of workers and retirees. This wicked and fraudulent conduct started under the previous anti-worker Aregbesola government, but are now being sustained by the Oyetola-led government.
Aside this, there are the arrears of gratuities of retirees on government pension scheme, who have left the service since 2012. Rather than pay in full the gratuities, the Oyetola government decided to bastardise the gratuity payment by paying only a fraction (N200,000), out of millions of naira of gratuity the government owe each retiree. Worse still, this fraction is paid just once in a year. Added to this is the 15-month arrears of salaries and pensions owe workers and retirees since 2015.
Given this background, we in the DSM give our total support to the retirees who have taken to the streets in peaceful protests to demand their rightful emoluments. We find the state government’s condemnation of these peaceful protests by retirees as ridiculous and insensitive. It is unconscientious for a state government that has refused to pay pension and gratuity of pensioners who have retired since 2016 (five years ago), to have the effrontery to accuse the suffering retirees of being sponsored by politicians.
It is indeed shameful that retirees have to embark on protests before their meagre pensions and gratuities are paid. The same government that looked the other way for about three years is now asking retirees to wait for another round of hardly productive negotiations that have run to months before their entitlements are paid; obviously the government wants to buy away time so that the demand can be swept under the carpet. In fact, the attitude of the government to the demands of the retirees is the more reason the retirees should not relent in their peaceful protests and agitations, until their demands are met.
It is worth mentioning that the current state governor, Gboyega Oyetola, as the Chief of Staff to the then-governor Rauf Aregbesola, was part of the committee on salary and pension arrears. That he has continued the terrible policies of the anti-worker Aregbesola government shows that nothing has changed. The Oyetola government is simply anti-worker like his predecessors.
We find as untenable the excuse by the government that there is no money to pay the arrears of pensions and gratuities, including more than 15 months of outstanding salaries and pensions. The same government that pays politicians and political appointees humongous emoluments has no excuse to deny retirees their entitlements after decades of service to the state. It is a further proof of anti-poor, pro-rich character of Oyetola government. The same government that could borrow about three billion naira at an exorbitant interest rate to re-construct an existing and functional road with less than 500-meter fly-over in Osogbo, has no excuse of paucity fund when it comes to paying thousands of long-suffering retirees.
The same government that is claiming lack of fund reportedly handed over N11 billion to private contractors, many of whom abandoned many road projects or left them uncompleted after initially collecting more than 50 percent of contract sum. The N11 billion was part of the refund for federal roads undertaken by the state government. The same state government who could pay contractors who defrauded the state has no excuse not to pay retirees. If the state government is sincere about paucity of fund, we challenge it to make the financial record of the state open for public scrutiny; and it will be glaring, how politicians and their big business collaborators have cornered the resources of the state.
Consequent upon all this, we demand the immediate payment of all pension arrears of retirees on contributory pension scheme and the gratuities of retirees on government pension scheme. We also demand the immediate payment of the arrears of 15 month salaries and pensions owed since 2015.
We reiterate our support for the protesting retirees and call on the labour movement in the state, especially the labour centres, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) to mobilise workers in the state in support of the protesting retirees. An injury to one is an injury to all.