By Niyi Olutunde, Akure
Following their unpaid accumulated salaries, arrears and gratuities, workers and pensioners in Ondo state have lambasted the state government for allegedly withholding the Paris Club debt refund released to it by the federal government with the aim of diverting the fund.
They lamented that the state government failed to pay workers their outstanding salaries and pensions as directed by the federal government.
The workers and pensioners who staged a peaceful protest to press for their payment on Tuesday in Akure said they deserve better treatment from the state government.
The senior citizens who blocked entrance to the governor’s office at Alagbaka, Akure, carried placards with different inscriptions, “Arakunrin Akeredolu must pay our entitlements”, “we are dying”, “pensioners deserve better treatment from ondo government”, “Akeredolu fulfills your promise to pensioners”, “Arakunrin must implement 33% pension increase approved by the federal government since 2014”, among others.
The retirees led by the state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, Chief Rapheal Adetuwo said government was owing the gratuities and pension of about forty-three billion naira since year 2012 till date.
Chief Adetuwo noted that the last tranche of Paris Club debt refund paid to the ondo state government should be used to settle outstanding workers’ salaries, pensions and gratuities as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Addressing the workers, the NLC chairman, Comrade Tayo Ogunleye, TUC chairman, Comrade Soladoye Ekundayo and JNC chairman Comrade Abel Oloniyo, however gives Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu two weeks ultimatum to pay their salaries and arrears or to see the other sides of workers in the state.
The workers who also have a prayer session at the entrance of the state governor’s office, Alagbaka for several hours said they would be coming to pray at the Governor’s office everyday until government settle their accumulated salaries and pensions’ arrears with the debt refund.
The retirees on their own parts said, “If President Buhari saw salaries and pensions as means of livelihood and if hr rightly doled out Paris club loan refund to the state governors to enhance immediate payment of salaries and pensions, such money should be used for the purpose.
“Old age hazards and poverty have killed enough; enough is enough. Monthly pensions for the months of October, November, December 2016, January, 2017 and September 2018. Gratuities as from 2012 to date”.
Also speaking, the state secretary of the pensioners, Comrade Sunday Akinzue said if Governor Akeredolu refused to attend to the retirees’ demands by the end of this month, they would be forced to relocate from their homes and occupy the governor’s office permanently.
While addressing the aggrieved workers and pensioners, the State Head of Service, Mr Toyin Akinkuotu reiterated the commitment of the present administration in the state of prioritizing the welfare of its workers by prompt payment of salaries and regular promotion.
Also speaking, Deputy Accountant General, Mr Tunde Akinsanmi confirmed the position of the state finance commissioner, that the state government received alert of 20.9billoin about four weeks ago but the amount was withdrawn by CBN from state covers because the Federal Government want to verified Ondo State statement of account which will be presented to the Governor forum soon.
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