State governments including Kano, Benue, Osun, Delta, Ekiti, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers and Kwara are currently owing pensioners many of whom are dying without receiving their entitlements.
Labour leaders and officials of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners said besides failing to remit the contributory pensions, retirees on the defined benefit scheme were being owed.
But state officials attributed the delay in paying pensions and gratuities to the poor economy of the country and assured that the entitlements would be paid as soon as their cash flow improved.
The defined benefit scheme is the pension scheme that was in effect before the adoption and payment of pensions to new retirees under the CPS as stipulated by the Pension Reform Act.
Under the DBS, the total pension obligation is borne by government as against the CPS where the accumulated pension at retirement is based on a pension plan in which an employer/employee contribute in varying percentages to build a retirement fund for an individual.
Many retirees are still paid based on the defined benefit scheme.
The Chairman of the NUP in Benue State, Mike Vembe, said that pensioners in the state were owed 34 months pension arrears.
Vembe said that local government pensioners were owed 72 months pension arrears.
He stated, “When I assumed office six months ago, what I met on ground was that state pensioners were owed 34 months pension arrears and local government pensioners were owed 72 months arrears.
“Pensioners were divided into two groups and each group is to be paid every other month. If one group is paid this month, the other group will be paid next month.
Benue owes us 34 months pension arrears, gov says state allocation meager – Pensioners
“I met the governor over this and the governor said the allocation coming to the state was meager but I pleaded with him to maintain the system so that pensioners will be getting something every month and he agreed and has maintained that”, Vembe said.
Osun owed pensioners 15 months pension, 45 retirees died in August — NUP Secretary
In the Osun State, the Secretary of the NUP, Mr Dele Aina, said the state government owed pensioners 15 months pension arrears.
According to him, 45 pensioners in the state died in August. He added that many retirees struggling with various ailments could not afford medications. This, he said, was leading to preventable deaths.
Aina, who insisted that the amount owed pensioners in the state ran into several billions of naira, said the NUP had made several efforts to get the outstanding pensions.
He said, “Just last month, we lost 45 pensioners. The hardship we are exposed to is indescribable and it should not continue. We are owed 15 months pensions by the government. We hope they will pay us as soon possible to enable us to take care of our health.”
We have reported Okowa to God’s court – Delta pensioners
The Delta State pensioners told The PUNCH that they had reported the state Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, to God’s court.
The Vice-Chairman of the Association of Contributory Pension Scheme, NUP, Mr Antony Osanakwu, stated this in an interview with The PUNCH on Thursday in Asaba
He said, “The government of Delta State is deceitful. They are just playing on our intelligence because we have seen that Okowa does not want to pay.
“But we have reported the matter to God’s court where there is no appeal. The association has gone to God to seek redress for non-payment of benefits accruable to the retirees in the state.
“I cannot remember how much now, but we are being owed many months arrears, but according to Okowa, when Bishop of Ugheli Diocease asked him, he said Delta State Government owed over N100bn pension benefits.”
Delta releases N1.3bn monthly to settle pension arrears – Okowa’s aide
Faulting the pensioners, the state government said it spent N1.3bn monthly to settle the pension areas in the state.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Olise.
He said, “If they said they had handed over the matter to God, so there is no need to take it to the public again. The government has been paying over N1.3bn every month to upset the arrears of pensions in the state.
“They cannot resort to blackmail. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said it at the time the issue of pensions came up, the last administration before he came on board didn’t pay anything.”
Ekiti pensioners owed billions, dying in droves – NUP chairman
On his part, the Chairman of the NUP in Ekiti State, Joel Akinola, said that the unpaid arrears had made life terrible for the pensioners “in terms of health, feeding, living in a conducive environment coupled with the high cost of living.”
According to him, there is a high mortality rate among pensioners
The pensioners’ leader, who said government had refused to respond to the series of communications over the unpaid pension arrears, said, “We will keep appealing that the state government should have compassion for us.”
Shedding light on the plight of the pensioners, the NUP boss said, “Recently, the state government released N100m to pay part of the backlog of gratuities owed some pensioners.
“Out of the N100m, in a group of 20 retirees that should benefit, 11 of them are alive while nine were dead.
“It is the Pension Transition Administration Directorate that can do the computing of what we are being owed accurately, but if we look at the arrears of pensions and outstanding gratuities, it is in the region of several billions of naira.”
Kano owes retirees N27bn gratuities, fails to pay benefits since 2016
Pensioners in Kano State said the state government owed them over N27bn gratuities.
The Chairman of the state chapter of the NUP, Ahmed Gwale, disclosed this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH in Kano on Thursday.
He said the state government had not been able to pay gratuities to all civil servants that retired since July 2016.
“The state government has not paid retirement benefits to retirees from July 2016 to date,” Gwale stated.
The Borno State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Yusuf Inuwa, said over 800 retired local government workers had not been paid their pensions.
This, he said, was a result of the biometric data verification in the local government areas.
But the state Head of Service, Simon Malgwi, said the state pensioners were being paid, except those who had problem with verification.
In Enugu State, retirees of parastatals are owed two-year pensions while their gratuities were last paid in 2005.
But retired civil servants were owed three months of pensions while gratuities were last paid in 2010.
A retiree, Chief Eze Michael, noted that the present administration deceived pensioners when it was vying for second term.
According to him, the administration said it would be setting aside N100m every month for the payment of gratuities and pensions.
Eze said, “This administration has not paid gratuities since its inception. The last administration of Governor Sullivan Chime paid gratuities up to 2010 but Ugwuanyi’s administration has not paid gratuities except for retired permanent secretaries.”
The state government confirmed that it owed pensions and gratuities but said it was working hard to clear all the arrears as the cash flow improved.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Chidi Aroh, who stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents, said he didn’t have the statistics of entitlements owed.
Aroh said, “Your statistics are not correct, like everybody knows in the nation that the economy is not really good. We came into government since 2015. So if somebody is not being paid gratuities since 2010 it obviously means he had not been paid five years before we came into government.
“I can tell you that since we came into government, we have been making steady payment. In fact, it is our government that restored payment to where the gratuities stopped. What was happening before was if you knew somebody in government he would isolate you and pay you your gratuity. But when we came onboard we said no, even those who didn’t know anybody worked for this state and they were entitled to their gratuities”
Aroh said payment of pension had been regular. On the issue of parastatals, he said “I know that we have been making efforts to clear all those backlogs in Water Corporation, Daily Star, among others. So what I want you to take from me is that the state government is doing all within its powers to make sure that all the financial responsibilities are being met as cash flow allows.”
In Ogun State, it gathered that the government owed local government pensioners N68bn of 10 years outstanding of gratuities.
The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress in the state lamented the alleged non-payment of 150 months contributory pensions of the workers in the state, running into N50bn