Hundreds of retired civil servants have thronged the Kano State Government House over unpaid N30.900 billion accumulated pension.
The pensioners, who started their march from the Audu Bako Secretariat to Government House Kano, carried placards with several inscriptions like “Monthly pension deductions must be stopped”, “Pay us our pension arrears”, “Resume compliance to pension laws”, “Pension our deducted benefits and monthly pension is non-taxable by law, why deduct on it?”
Speaking, Kabiru Ado Minijibir, the state Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Chairman, who was there in solidarity with the protesting pensioners, said, the state owes 32,600 pensioners accumulated N36.900 billion unpaid arrears.
He said, as of June 2022, 18,111 pensioners were unpaid, adding that this problem has resulted in the deaths of many while others have taken ill with no money to settle hospital bills.
Minjibir explained that the refusal by many government agencies and parastatals to pay 17 percent of deducted pension money has now reached over N60 billion.
The NLC Chairman prayed that government would henceforth stop the illegal deductions of pensioners’ money, which he noted contravenes the 2016 Pension Law which prohibited deductions of pensioners’ funds and has mandated agencies and parastatals to pay their due as at when due.
“We also hope that Government would set aside special funds to commence the immediate payment of the unsettled N30.900 billion funds, and also ensure that the unwarranted cut in thier money immediately stopped.
“Failure to this might result in the pensioners taking the last option which is legal action, but we know and believe that Governor Ganduje has his people in his heart as can be seen in the monthly payment of pension allowances and salaries”.
Responding, the State Head of Service and who is also the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mallam Usman Bala, reminded that the accumulated unpaid pension arrears could be traced to the Government of Senator Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso which Governor Ganduje inherited.
He said it is not a story that Governor Kwankwaso uses the pension money to build houses in the state to the detriment of the pensioners and the houses are now there laying fallow without anybody using them.
“But despite all these negative tendencies, our government now is paying monthly Pension allowances and also tried in paying some gratuity, but one should know that the Nation is facing serious cash crunch and Kano is not exceptional,” he said.
He assured that the problems emanated from the fact that so many civil servants have retired from the service, leaving a vacuum in non-remittance of pensions to the pension funds, but Government in its wisdom is now employing over two thousand new civil servants to fill the vacuum and ensure monthly deductions.