By G9ija

Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun has restated the commitment of his administration to prioritise the welfare of the pensioners and regular payment of their pensions despite the dwindling financial situation being witnessed in the state and the country at large.

This is just as the governor disclosed that efforts were on the top gear to clear the 2011 pension arrears and increase the quarterly release of N500 million to defray the backlog of pension arrears as the state’s finances improve.

Governor Abiodun, in a response to the protest on Wednesday by the Ogun State Chapter of the Local Government Pensioners Association of Nigeria (LOGPAN) over outstanding gratuity owed its members, stated this in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, on Thursday, in Abeokuta.

The governor noted that pension issues are not new to all stakeholders in the state, recalling that at the inception of his administration, robust dialogues were held with all the stakeholders on how to move forward on the payment of pension arrears.

He, however, said that the state government was not aware of any N3.9 billion pension fund meant for the payment of local government pensioners in the state, as claimed by the protesting pensioners.

According to him, it was the first time such a fund was heard of by the present administration in the state.

‘We are not aware of any N3.9 billion pension fund as claimed by LOGPAN. If there is any, we will be grateful if they can show us the path to recover it,’ he stated.

Governor Abiodun, who noted that the backlog of pensions is a huge sum of money, refuted the allegation that disbursement was done to favour some people to the detriment of others, declaring that ‘there is no favouritism on the payment of pension in the state. There is an established procedure to follow.’

He said a team would be sent to the Pension Office to verify what led to 2014 pensioners getting more pay than others from the quarterly N500 million release as alleged by the pensioners.

The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Tokunbo Talabi, had on Wednesday while addressing the protesters, said the present administration was not unmindful of the plight of the senior citizens.

He sought for their understanding to enable the government to offset the backlog of pensions and gratuities from 2011 for that of local government pensioners and 2014 for those in state civil service.

‘We inherited backlog of pensions and gratuities of 2011 from local government and 2014 from the state service. We are not complacent on the issue and we are working seriously to ensure that we fulfil our obligations towards our senior citizens,’ the SSG added.

The State Chairman of the Local Government Pensioners Association of Nigeria (LOGPAN), Alhaji Sikiru Ayilara, while responding, appealed to the state government to find a lasting solution towards addressing prompt payment of monthly pensions, gratuities, review of monthly pensions and the resuscitation of Board of Bureau of Local Government Pensions, amongst others.