- Obaseki decries marginalisation of widows
Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
In fulfillment of his promise to defray pension arrears owed pensioners in Edo State, the Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has sustained the monthly N264 million payment to pensioners, to ensure the retirees enjoy their status as senior citizens of the state.
Permanent Secretary, Edo State Pension Bureau, Mr. I.D.S Juwobor, explained that notices are published regularly for the pensioners to make themselves available for verification, after which their accounts are credited.
â€œThe payment plan is seamless and hassles-free, in recognition of the status of our pensioners as men and women who have contributed immensely to the development of our state.
â€œThe pensioners appreciate the efforts of the Obaseki administration to clear the backlog and eliminate the cumbersome and analogue pension arrangement, with the introduction of contributory pension scheme, which the governor initiated,â€ the Permanent Secretary said.
He added that â€œthe recent release of the sum of N1.5 billion for the payment of their pension arrears by the governor to clear eight months arrears of 4,340 local government pensioners in the state, is worthy of commendation and much of the pension burden on government have been defrayed.â€
State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Jimoh Ijegbai, who assured of the governorâ€™s commitment in clearing all arrears owed pensioners in the state, said â€œon the 1st of May 2018 during the May Day celebration, the governor made a promise to release N1.5 billion to clear part of the local government pensionerâ€™s arrears in the state.â€
Ijegbai explained that after the announcement by the governor, a meeting of the pensioners was called and immediately the screening of the pensioners commenced.
The commissioner said the governor’s gesture was unprecedented in the history of Edo State to release such an amount to pay pension arrears. He noted that since Obaseki assumed office as governor of Edo state, he has not defaulted in the payment of pensioners in the state.
â€œAs at today, we pay N264 million monthly to pay our pensioners in the state and we will continue to pay until we clear the outstanding arrearsâ€.
The President of Local Government Pensioner Association (Edo State) Frank Akinido thanked the governor for keeping to his promise of paying pensioners and express delight to witness the release of the N1.5 billion to this effect.
He assured the governor that pensioners of local government in Edo State are peace abiding citizens. He thanked the governor of the state for remembering the pensioners in the scheme of things especially at this crucial hour of financial hardship.
In a related development, Governor Obaseki has decried practices that exclude widows from socioeconomic activities in some societies.
Obaseki said this on the occasion of the International Widowsâ€™ Day, celebrated by the United Nations on June 23, each year. He lamented that â€œpractices that stigmatise and exclude widows are obnoxious and fuel for poverty.â€
He added that â€œat a time world leaders are designing policies that engender inclusive growth, practices that discriminate against widows are anti-growth and development.â€
He noted that â€œwidows, like any other class of people, should have equal access to land and empowerment programmes to uplift them to any social or economic heights to which, they aspire.â€
The governor assured that â€œthe Edo State government will continue to mainstream all classes of people in her developmental programmes and policies, to give everyone equal opportunity and fair chance to attain greatness.â€
He saluted the UN Women for advancing the affairs of widows and urged world leaders to pay more than the usual attention to their rights and entitlements.
According to the United Nations, â€œin many countries, widowhood is stigmatised and seen as a source of shame. Widows are thought to be cursed in some cultures and are even associated with witchcraft. Such misconceptions can lead to widows being ostracised, abused and worse.
The global body notes that â€œThe International Widows Day is an opportunity for action towards achieving full rights and recognition for widows â€“ too long invisible, uncounted and ignored.â€