Unpaid Pension: South-West pensioners threaten to sue governors

L-R: Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; and his Lagos State counterpart, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, during the All Progressives Congress Southwest stakeholders' meeting, held at the Governor's Office, Ibadan... on Thursday. Photo: Oyo State Governor's Office

The Nigerian Union of Pensioners in the South West zone rose from a meeting in Akure, the Ondo State capital on Thursday, with a threat to drag state governors to court for failing to pay gratuities and pensions.

The union said they are left with no other option than to use the courts to compel the governors to pay their entitlements.

The union said they were giving the governors between now and July to pay up or face litigations.

The Southwest Zonal Chairman of NUP, Ayo Kumapayi, and the spokesperson of the union, Olusegun Abatan, while jointly addressing journalists, said legal action became imperative in view of the manner pensioners were dying due to lack of care.

Mr Abatan specifically mentioned the case of Ogun State, where pensioners were falling sick and dying, adding that similar situations had been recorded in rising cases in Lagos, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun and Ondo states as a result of unpaid pensions and gratuities.

Mr Kumapayi on his part said the union discovered that the governors had failed to pay pensioners due to reckless spending on salaries and allowances of political office holders.

“Humongous salaries and allowances of public office holders especially senators and House Representatives members who take home N13million and N14million monthly need to be reviewed. How can those people be collecting such huge money in a country where 80 per cent are battling to meet daily meal?” Mr Kumapayi said.

NUP also recommended that the Revenue Mobilisations, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) should be empowered to place all the political office holders, including the president, governors, ministers, federal and state lawmakers on the same salary scale with civil servants from Grade Level-18 to Grade Level-25 in the country.

The step, the pensioners said, would save the country’s economy from collapse and enable the government to have more money to take care of the needs of the less privileged Nigerians who are in abject poverty and deprivation.

“President Buhari should use his second term in office to do something about such take home by our federal lawmakers,” he further said.

“They should be placed on same salary scale with the civil servants to reduce pressure on the nation’s economy.

Those who want to genuinely serve will take it, political offices have been turned into money making venture and no longer for service to humanity.”

Mr Kumapayi suggested that the president should be on GL 25, Vice President, on GL 24, governors on GL 23, and so on, wh I would save the nation from unnecessary financial burden.

The union also commended the President for approving financial autonomy for local governments.

It said the move would prevent many state governors from spending local governments’ funds recklessly.

Also speaking, the National Deputy General Secretary of NUP, Joseph Okunade, said the national leadership of the NUP was in full support of the legal action against the state governors.

“We at the nation like our south west zone’s call for the inclusion of retirees in the new N30,000 minimum wage to be known as the National Minimum Pension,” he said.

“We advise governors who are grumbling over the payment of the new wage to shun frivolous spending to enable them meet workers and pensioners’ needs.”

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