Femi Ogbonnikan in Abeokuta
Pensioners under the aegis of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), Ogun State chapter, have threatened to institute legal action against the state government if it refuses to implement the two different schemes for pensioners in line with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act of 2004.
At a press conference held at the union’s event centre, Abeokuta weekend, the state chairman, Chief Olujimi Odukoya, said inspite of the existence of contributory person scheme which provides for two different schemes for pensioners, that is surprising that Ogun State government could decide to deviate from the guideline of the defined pension payment and introduced another guideline of payment which is at variance with the pension law by applying working of gratuity based on Basic Salaries, Rent and Transportation (BRT) only.
According to him, the system introduced by the Ogun State government is a method applied to defraud Ogun State pensioners and also to debut hem of about 40 percent of their gratuity entitlement.
The system, the union’s chairman stated, is applicable to the newly introduced contributory pension scheme.
Odukoya noted that his union vehemently rejected the new fraudulent system of payment of gratuity and called on the state government to reverse the illegal BRT gratuity payment, otherwise they would seek redress in a court of law.
However, the union expressed displeasure over the missing names of some pensioners from the Federal payment vouchers in the past ten years.
The genesis of the problem he attributed to the fraudulent practices perpetrated by a former pension boss, Maina.
Inspite of entreaties made to get the names of the affected pensioners restored into the list of payment voucher without success, it was gathered, that the Pension Transition Administrative Department (PTAD) administration has promised that the national verification exercise would take care of the omission but six months thereafter the story is the same thing.
Those affected in the exercise, it was learnt, are those of the retired primary school teachers and local government pensioners.
“There is a body known as Joint Ad hoc Acton Committee (JAAC) set up to oversee the distribution and judicious expenditure of local government allocations where both retired teachers and local government staff are represented but the Ogun State government put an abrupt end to the meeting of this body to the effect that nobody knows again how the local government allocation is being disbursed.
“Since this legal management committee of Bureau of local government had been scrapped by His Excellency and its functions had been illegally placed under the Commissioner for finance. As a result of this, today, billions of naira are lying idle in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since no committee is in place to administer the funds. We are calling on the State government for immediate re-instatement of the JAAC body. As a result of the removal of JAAC, mostly pension payment by the Bureau of Local Government Pension are no longer regular.
“We reject the unconstitutional placement of the Bureau of Local Government pension under the control of Ogun State Accountant General as this has been hampering effective payment of both the retired teachers and local government staff”, said Odukoya.