By Taofik Jimoh, Osogbo
There was a mild drama on Tuesday at the entrance of Osun state government secretariat in Osogbo when some aggrieved pensioners in the state called on the state governor, Gboyega Oyetola to drag his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, the current Minister of Interior, before Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for failing to offset their pensions and gratuities.
The retirees made this request while protesting the inability of the state government to pay their entitlements including gratuities, pensions and outstanding half salary arrears of over 15 months.
The protesting pensioners, in their hundreds, on Tuesday, stormed the state government secretariat in Osogbo and displayed placards with varying inscriptions amid anti-government songs to drive home their grievances.
The senior citizens, under the Contributory Pension Scheme, including retired primary and secondary school teachers, while addressing the state Deputy Governor, Benedict Alabi at the state government secretariat, demanded the probe of their contributory pension fund and how the bailout fund released to the Aregbesola-led administration was spent.
They said if Oyetola didn’t meet any money in their contributory pension account, then he should petition the anti-graft agency to commence investigation.
The pensioners urged the state government to investigate while pensions, gratuities and outstanding half salary arrears were not paid despite the bailout from the Federal Government.
Speaking for the protesting group and specifically addressing the deputy governor after he appealed to the pensioners for understanding, Mrs Salami Bamidele said there was a need for probe since Oyetola claimed it inherited the unpaid entitlements.
“You are releasing N708 million monthly for pensioners but what gets to us that are under Contributory Pension Scheme is very little compared to our population.
“2016 retirees who have not collected anything are about 600. The recent money that they released, only 76 of us benefitted from it. We are dying, battling with sickness of different kinds.
“The person that incurred the debt on the state is from your party, since you know that there was mismanagement of government resources, you should have notified the EFCC to arrest him. I am very sure if he is from another party, he (Aregbesola) would have been arrested by now. Your party is now telling you not to arrest him at our detriment. If you are not the one that caused the non-payment of our entitlements, then probe the person that is responsible,” she demanded.
Addressing the pensioners, Osun State Deputy Governor, Mr Benedict Alabi had appealed to them to exercise patience saying the government was working tirelessly to ensure they all get their pension.
Alabi said: “We are ensuring that we are paying full salary promptly. The truth will always be true and false will be false. This money in question (pensioners’ entitlements), we can not pay at once.
“You are very important to us and we are handling your matter as a priority. We don’t like the way you are under the scorching sun, it is not good enough for you and us.
“To sort out the issue of pensioners, your leadership picked November 29, 2021, to meet with the government. I am sure as the deputy governor of this state, the outcome of the meeting will serve your interest as we will add to money they use to release on monthly basis. Governor Oyetola will always fulfil his promise. Let us be patient till the end of the meeting.”
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