Gov Seyi Makinde of Oyo state, says the state has a backlog of N26 billion unpaid gratuities for 6,274 pensioners.
Makinde made the revelation on Monday while conducting a symbolic presentation of cheques to some of the beneficiaries of the N180 million gratuity for the 2013 retirees, held at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan.
The governor said that his administration had been making efforts to offset the debt despite the limited sources of funds for its operations.
He stressed that the released of N180 million as part of the outstanding gratuity and pension arrears for 2013 retirees from the civil service was to fulfill a promised made.
“I give you a promise that as our economy is getting expanded, so also shall we 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 promised that his administration remained committed to finishing whatever the previous administrations left undone, and ‘these’, he said ‘include payments of this nature’.
“When a child inherits a fortune from his father, he will not reject it. In the same way, if he inherits a liability, he is duty-bound to do something about it and that is what we are doing.”
The governor, who asserted that those who have served diligently needed all the support they can get from the state, posited that ‘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 in the state and to 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.
“And what this means is, we have committed one billion, nine hundred and eight million Naira (N1.908 billion) to this payment in the past one year with a total of 886 retired civil servants, hospital workers, teaching and non-teaching staff benefiting.
“When we came in, we still had the gratuities 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 pay them all.” He stated.
Makinde further said that his administration would continue doing its best to ensure that everyone in the state feels the impact of governance.
In his welcome address, Prof Kehinde Sangodoyin, the State’s Commissioner for Establishment and Training, said the Makinde administration had alleviated the suffering of the helpless retirees and has gone a long way projecting the state government as people-centred.
He admonished the beneficiary retirees to invest their money in meaningful ventures.
The Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners in Oyo state, Mr Okusegun Abatan, appreciated the state government for the paying the gratuities.
Abatan urged Gov Makinde to sustain his efforts at bringing smiles to the faces of the state’s retirees.