Edo government explains payment of pensioners’ claims in phases
After several protests by pensioners in Edo State over alleged non-payment of their gratuities and pensions, the state government said it embarked on a holistic strategy to address pensioners’ welfare.
It noted that it was committed to paying all outstanding pensions arrears and gratuities in phases to reduce the debt burden on the state.
The government said although dwindling crude production and oil prices affected revenue accruing to it from the Federal Government, it has prioritised the plight of pensioners in the face of competing needs in the different sectors of the state.
In a statement by the Special Adviser, Media Communication and Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, the government also dismissed reports that it owed 42 months in pensions arrears, noting that the claims “are false and a misinterpretation of the facts.”
It said the government has been faithful to the purpose of the Paris Club Refund, which was disbursed to states for clearing salaries, pensions and gratuity arrears.
It, however, noted that available funds were not enough and could not be sufficient to settle pensions arrears that have accumulated for over 20 years.
“The Paris Club Refund is not restricted to payment of pensions arrears and gratuities, but for employees’ emoluments,” the statement said.
The government further explained that only a few pensioners were owed several months of arrears, most of who are captured under the Local Government Pensions Board, which is autonomous and independent of the Edo State Pensions Bureau.
The state stressed that although pensions arrears that led to recent protests spanned for over two decades, it acknowledged the principle of continuity in governance and had put measures in place to address the issues.
“Matters concerning local government pensioners are separately handled by the Local Government Pension Board. Up to this moment, retirees in the local government service fall within the jurisdiction of the Local Government Pensions Board.
“Be that as it may, the issues of pensioners of the local government service, are better tackled by the Local Government Pensions Board,” it added.