By Olayinka Kolawole, Abeokuta
Pensioners in Ogun State on Wednesday shutdown the state government secretariat to protest non-payment of N68 billion outstanding gratuity which had accrued over 10 years.
The pensioners, under the auspices of Local Government Pensioners Association (LOGPAN), blocked the two main gates to the secretariat in Oke-Mosan, locking out the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Tokunbo Talabi, and other civil servants for over four hours.
The protesters displayed placards with various inscriptions like “gratuities are on sales to pensioners” and “Governor Dapo Abiodun, honour your father and treat pensioners well.”
The State Chairman of LOGPAN, Sikiru Ayilara, who addressed newsmen during the protest, lamented alleged “inhuman treatment” meted to them by the Dapo Abiodun-led administration.
He accused Abiodun of failing to keep his promises to the pensioners, adding that some of them still earned paltry sum of N3,000 as monthly pension.
Ayilara described the quarterly vote of N500 million by the state government for the payment of the outstanding gratuity as “a wicked act”, adding that “it will take the governor 34 years to clear the outstanding by such arrangement.”
He called for an upward review of the policy to N1billion monthly.
According to him, the association has written about 13 letters to the governor seeking his audience but he has refused to meet with them.
Ayilara insisted that it was illegal for the state government to be paying pensions through the Ministry of Finance, instead of the Bureau of Local Government Pensions.
“We have written 13 letters to the governor through various channels without response.
“We have informed security agencies in the state including the Director of State Services and the Nigerian Police.
“They all intervened without any positive response from the governor.
“Governor Abiodun should honour us grandfathers and grandmothers and direct his personal attention to us for us to meet and find lasting solution to the inhuman treatments being meted to us at our old age.
“The situation has led to the untimely death of some of our members despite having served the state for between 10 and 35 years. We demand immediate harmonisation of the pensions. We demand regular payment of our pensions as it was in the past,” he said.
Responding to the pensioners, Talabi, who was later permitted into the premises, appealed to the pensioners to be more patient with the government, saying the government is currently experiencing hard times.
He assured that the government would positively consider the demands of the pensioners.