Laleye Dipo in Minna
The Niger State government has spent over N10 billion on the payment of pensions and gratuities to retirees in the last four years, the Director General of the state Pension Board, Alhaji Usman Tinau Mohammed, said in Minna on Monday.
Mohammed said over 6,000 pensioners have benefited from the payment, with majority of them from the 25 local governments in the state.
The director general said following the migration of 6,280 retirees from the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) to the old pension scheme in line with the amendment carried out in the state Pension Act by the House of Assembly, nearly N800 million is now being paid monthly.
The Pension Act was amended in 2017 following an outcry by labour in the state that workers were being shortchanged under the new scheme, a development that put the commencement date for the CPS at 1992.
Mohammed explained that before the law and the migration, government was spending about N200 million on the payment of pension before it now increased to N800 million monthly.
He disclosed that the present administration inherited a pension liability of N4 billion including death and retirement gratuities, which after verification, was reduced to slightly over N2 billion which has been paid.
Despite the huge amount committed to the payment of pensions and gratuities, the director general said government has been up to date in the payment to all its retirees, adding that the Board had commenced the payment of death gratuities to relations of deceased civil servants.
He insisted that no fewer than 100 of such relations have received the benefits.
Mohammed also said that all permanent secretaries, who retired under the present dispensation, had also received their pensions, though he submitted that they were asking for increase in their entitlements which “is not backed by law”.
He however said with the way things were, government should “do something about the increasing pensions and other entitlements before the situation gets out of hand”.
Mohammed therefore suggested a verification of all pensioners in order to remove permanently all those that should not be on the voucher.
Part of the steps taken to sanitise the pension administration in the state was the establishment of a ” Unitary Server” for both state and local governments, saying the step which he suggested should be sustained and built upon, as it has saved for the government over N2 billion.