Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, yesterday gave an ultimatum of two weeks for the bottleneck affecting payment of pensions to be resolved.
The governor who held emergency meeting with the State Chairman of the NLC, executives of Nigerian Union of Pensioners and some representatives of pensioners facing problems with payment over bottlenecks arising from ongoing data capturing and standardisation of pensioners payments in Borno State, immediately set up a committee made up of representatives of all stakeholders including some journalists.
He gave the committee two weeks ultimatum to ensure all concerns regarding the biometrics be cleared in order to ensure that pensioners whose data and other documentation are yet to be captured, begin to receive their pensions like majority of others already collecting theirs after passing through the biometric.
The emergency meeting followed concerns displayed by a group of pensioners’ who are yet to complete the ongoing biometrics.
Shettima took time to explain to the affected pensioners that the biometrics has been complex because some persons benefiting from all kinds of fraudulent activities through pension payments were determined to frustrate the biometric using different tricks.
He said the committee involved in the biometrics had besides identifying ghost pensioners, also found out that some persons had collected millions as pensions while still receiving salaries.
He lamented that the payment was happening as a result of poor system that allowed fraudulent activities in payments.
Shettima said more than 9,000 pensioners have already been cleared and enrolled through the biometrics and already receiving pensions.
He noted that only 500 pensioners had cases with their biometrics out of which 171 have been cleared by the committee but they have failed to present bank statements as part of the things required for submission to the biometrics committee before enrollment.
The governor directed that the about 300 pensioners yet to be captured be cleared within two weeks.
Speaking on what necessitated the biometrics exercise in the State, Shettima said more 33,000 workers were hitherto in the payroll of Borno State Government for many years resulting in government having to pay more than N2.5 billion every month on salaries.
He said after biometrics, the number of valid workers has been trimmed down to 20,154 out which 2,000 are already preparing to retire from the civil service. He noted that the biometric exercise has weeded out about 12,000 ghost workers resulting in monthly savings of over N500m.
He revealed that moneys saved are being deployed to other sectors while the government has since began the recruitment of 1,000 teachers and other administrative staff into the Borno State civil service.
Governor Shettima said with the development, his administration was able to lift an embargo on mass employment which was in existence since the early 90s.