Internally Displaced Pensioners Protests in Osun The Facts – Dr Bolorunduro
Currently, the pension bill of the State of Osun is about N600million monthly, the highest in the southwestern states (except Lagos). The reasons are:
1. Adoption of 1998 pension reform which was implemented in 2005, many states are yet to implement this. Please take note of the arrears of 1999 to 2005, which I will address later.
2. The exit of about 5000 staff in 2011 and 2012 as a result of the 2008 pension reform act of the Federal Government that compelled workers to either join new contributory pension scheme or take an exit, irrespective of age and length of service. The shameless 100 people comically pretending to be internally displaced are a far cry from the 5000 retirees of 2011/12 or the total retirees figures of 21,000 in the state. The act of mocking the victims of the horrendous Boko Haram insurgency in north-eastern Nigeria is sacrilegious in the extreme.
Osun under Governor Aregbesola has always been paying pensions fully and timely until November 2014.
To understand how the huge arrears of pensions came about we must understand the background. In 1998, late military Head of State, General Sani Abacha in his bid to succeed himself compulsorily mandated states and the federal government to increase pension by 142 per cent. This unfunded mandate could not be implemented by many states because Abacha didn’t back it up with funds.
Osun, like other states, didn’t implement it until 2005, leaving arrears of 1999 to 2005. No state in the southwest has paid the arrears, including Lagos State
Ogbeni Aregbesola, however, out of his magnanimous heart asked for the arrears to be calculated, it was initially put at N3.9 billion but with biometric verification of retirees, it was reduced to N2.6 billion. Ogbeni paid N400 million immediately and subsequently paid another N900 million, totalling N1.3 billion, leaving a balance of 50 per cent. Osun is the only state in this region that has done that.
Governor Aregbesola should be appreciated and honestly, most of the retirees appreciate him. The theatrical 100 self-styled internally displaced pensioners out of the 5000 retirees of 2011/12 class are therefore just playing dirty politics. As a matter of fact, their leader, Mr Omoniyi Ilesanmi, was a failed PDP councillorship candidate in his constituency.
The protesters are yet to tell us their actual motive. We are waiting. The government of Osun has been very transparent and Mr Governor has always pleaded with the people, workers and pensioners for understanding and cooperation in this special period of shrinking revenue. Ogbeni always appreciates the civil servants and the pensioners.
He always reminds them of the good relationships that exist between them. Yes, Osun operates modulated wage payments based on revenue availability administered by an apportionment committee comprising of representatives of industrial and professional unions and associations with the management staff of government under the leadership of veteran and credible labour leader, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu.
This becomes necessary as a result of the shortfall in revenue accruing from federation accounts and other sources, however, the workers and pensioners at the low end get full pension.
These are the indisputable facts. The orchestrated, malicious and ill-informed two-hour gathering of about 100 pensioners at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo, was ostensibly for prayers and health check, but it was mischievously tagged and displayed as camp for the internally displaced.
This was a sick joke and a slander on the peaceful people of the State of Osun who are proud Omoluabi, the epitome of virtue.
We share the pains, trauma and agony of the genuinely displaced people and governments of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Bauchi, who for no fault of theirs were forced to flee their homes and natural habitats as a result of the mindless and destructive insurgency of Boko Haram on their land.
We thank the Almighty God, commend President Muhammadu Buhari and salute our courageous military forces for the defeat of Boko Haram and gradual return to normalcy in the region. May God prevent any resurgence of such bestiality in any part of Nigeria.
By Dr Adewale Bolorunduro