The Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees, Kwara State chapter, Mr. Abayomi Afolabi, has said that retired local government workers and primary school teachers in the state are owed over N14bn gratuity.
He said all the LG workers that retired from May 2008 till date had not been paid their gratuities.
Afolabi made this known in an interview with Punch correspondent in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
A report revealed that there were 8,429 LG pensioners in the state as of October 2015.
According to the report, Asa Local Government council has 525; Baruten, 276; Edu, 434; Ekiti, 378; Ifelodun, 845; Ilorin East, 814; Ilorin South, 519; Ilorin West, 1,063; Irepodun, 741; Isin, 245; Kaiama, 213; Moro, 541; Offa, 645; Oke-Ero, 319; Oyun, 520 and Patigi, 351.
Afolabi said, “Up till date, the arrears of gratuity owed LG retirees and primary school teachers is more than N14bn. We do not know where we are going to get this money to pay the retirees. Or does the state government want all of them to die in penury? The money is more than N14bn.”
He added, “Since May 2008 till date, all those who retired from service in Kwara State have not collected their gratuities. Thus, the money has risen up to N14bn. They are still owing arrears of pension. They paid last in October 2015 to LG pensioners. The state has not been contributing to the account.”
The state Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Mr. Lateef Okandeji, when contacted, referred our correspondent to the Permanent Secretary, Local Government Service Commission, Alhaji Sidiq Tunde.
Our correspondent’s calls to Tunde did not connect. He also did not reply to a text message on the subject matter as of press time.
But the Senior Special Assistant to the Kwara State Governor on Media and Communication, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, said the payment of LG workers’ gratuity was not the responsibility of the state Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed.
He said, “The LG pension and gratuity have nothing to do with the Kwara State Governor. They are not his responsibility. They are the responsibility of the LG thus any gratuity or arrears should be referred to them.
“Regarding the contributory pension scheme, the state government at a recent executive council meeting actually approved for the state’s involvement including paying the past arrears of a conservative estimate of N1.5bn. We have keyed into it and if affects workers who were employed from 1987. Those are the ones that will be included in the pension contributory scheme. The other ones will continue to do their pension contribution until they retire.
He said, “The state government did not key into it on time because the LG workers were resistant to the ideas of contributing. Now they have seen it is being backed by law and that is where the whole country is going. The state government has mandated the Head of Service to provide the financial implication of us keying into it. In principle, it has been approved.”