By David Adeoye/Ibadan
Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State said the state is owing 6,274 pensioners N26 billion in unpaid gratuities.
Makinde made the disclosure in Ibadan on Monday while presenting cheques to some of the beneficiaries of the N180 million gratuity for 2013 retirees.
He said his administration had been making efforts to offset the debt in spite of the limited sources of funds for the government.
“I gave you a promise that as our economy is getting expanded, so also we will be adding more to what we need to pay to pensioners to ensure that we shorten the period within which we can offset this debt,” he said.
He said that his administration remained committed to finishing whatever the previous administrations had left undone, including payments.
“When a child inherits fortune from his father, he will not reject it.
“In the same way, if he inherits debt, he is duty-bound to do something about it and that is what I just explained; we are doing something about it,” he said.
The governor said that those who had served diligently needed all the support they could get from the state.
” Ordinarily, the payment of gratuity to retirees should come immediately after retirement.
“Despite the meagre resources available to the state, my administration will continue to bring relief to the entire workforce and its senior citizens.
“This symbolic presentation of cheques is for retirees who finished the processing of their retirement papers in 2013.
“In total, 82 of these retirees will be paid their full retirement benefits.
“Seven years is a long time for anyone who could not work to wait to get paid their benefits.
“Such payment should ideally come immediately upon retirement and it is indeed disheartening that the previous administration did not do what was supposed to be done when it should be done.
“We are able to do this because we increased monthly allocation for gratuities from N100 million to N180 million with effect from June 2019.
” What this means is we have committed N1.908 billion to this payment in the past one year with a total number of 886 retired civil servants, hospital workers, teaching and non-teaching staff benefitting.
“When we came in, we still had the gratuity arrears of 2011. Now, we have completed the arrears of 2011 and 2012 and we are now on 2013.
“I give you the assurance that we will keep paying off these debts and I know we will finish paying them.” he said.
Makinde further said that his administration would continue doing its best to ensure that everyone in the state felt the impact of governance.
In his address of welcome, Prof. Kehinde Sangodoyin, the state Commissioner for Establishment and Training, said the Makinde-led administration had alleviated the sufferings of helpless retirees.
Mr Okusegun Abatan, Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners in Oyo State, commended the state government for the payment of the gratuities.
Abatan urged Makinde to sustain his efforts at bringing smiles on the faces of the retirees.
Some of the beneficiaries–Raji Ayinde, Rachael Ogundiran, Adeniyi Omofoye and Fausat Olanrewaju– commended the governor for fulfilling his promise to them.