Tuesday, August 21, 2018 1:42 pm
By Bolanle Bolawole
Electioneering in Nigeria is war and like in all wars, truth is the first casualty. In Nigeria today where credible elections have receded sharply with the All Progressives Congress’s do-or-die, and win-at-all-costs mindset, it is increasingly difficult to separate propaganda from information. Pestered on all sides of the political divide to “do something” on the “suffering” of pensioners in Osun state on the one hand and the strident call to expose the politicking of the pensioners’ issue on the other, I have decided to carefully navigate the landmines that the twin-issue of pensioners/workers’ welfare and the looming governorship election in the State portend. Allowing those who wear the shoe and other conscionable observers air their view appears a reasonable thing to do in the circumstance. Today, I bring the views of some of the first respondents to our call for readers’ viewpoint here. More may come as time and circumstance permit. Enjoy it!
The menace of godfathers and godsons in Osun
Many thanks to you, Sir for inviting comments/observations on two key issues among several others affecting the people and economy of Osun state presently, to wit, the frosty relationship between Gov. Rauf Aregbesola and pensioners and the impending gubernatorial election in the state. Let me observe that the socio-economy and politics of the state were never so manipulated and determined by external forces as was being observed since the advent of Ogbeni Aregbesola in the saddle of governance in the state. Volumes could be written on Senator Bola Tinubu’s exploits in this regard. But one may want to know the attitude of the Jagaban to the plight of Osun people in the past eight years of his surrogate’s ruler ship in the state! Think of the white elephant projects, the humongous indebtedness to financial institutions and indebtedness to workers and pensioners, to mention but a few. It will be interesting to find out the godfather’s reaction to all these! Now the same political emperor is so determined to perpetuate his vicious grip on the people’s collective destiny via the next election in the State. As if this man’s mercenary exploits were most welcome and desirable, and not insulting and atrocious enough ,Gov. Ayo Fayose and his comrades-in-arms at the PDP national echelon now have started to rub insult upon our already injured souls as a people. See the candidate they have picked, in their collective arrogance and wickedness, to take over the reins of political power in the state. Should the election result favour them, it is evident – reading the details of the interview in the Sunday Tribune conducted with Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan (12th August 2018) – that these latest pack of godfathers have no consideration whatsoever for the need to rescue the state from its economic woes and fashion a positive direction for the socio-political transformation so badly needed in the state. Godfathers are doing the people so much evil in their mindless political adventures in the state of “The living spring” Osun state indigenes are not considered competent enough to make their own rightful choices on their own, the godfathers seem to be suggesting. But this is not so; they are only exploiting their privileged placements in the politics of the nation to arrogate to themselves power and wisdom which do not naturally and legitimately belong to them. By way of counsel to Tinubu, Fayose and their respective co-travellers in their self-serving adventurous interferences and imposition of their wishes on the good people of Osun state, it is only decent and advisable for them to leave the state in the hands of its sons and daughters to determine their political destiny as a people. They are unwelcome usurpers and interlopers. The intelligent people of the state are not deceived by those doctored, manipulated, and pre-determined primaries. – Diran Alade, Ile Ife.
Osun pensioners must watch it!
In your column on Sunday, July 6, 2014, you wrote on “Osun is next; August 9 is D-day!”On August 24, 2014, you caused the publication of the feedback from some of your readers in respect of your piece on Osun State quoted above. As part of the feedback, I offered some suggestions for the attention of Gov. Aregbesola . One of the suggestions was that he “should review his attitude to the payment of salaries of public workers and retirement benefits to pensioners” During the first term of Ogbeni Aregbesola as Governor of Osun State (2012 to 2014), his administration received a total of N393.129 billion (i.e. State Share: N203.009 billion; Local Govt. Share: N190.120 bn.) as Federal Allocation. Before the beginning of his second term, the debt profile of Osun State had increased tremendously. When the prices of crude oil fell, the net allocation to Osun State dwindled considerably after statutory deductions. It was this situation that informed the Governor of Osun State paying half salaries and pensions. And the pensioners in Osun State made a terrible mistake of signing an agreement with the State Government on the payment of half monthly pensions. Again, I strongly advise pensioners in Osun State to be very careful in dealing with the gubernatorial candidates for the September 2018 election in their state. Before the July 14 gubernatorial election in Ekiti State, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Ekiti State had a Press Briefing where pensioners in the state said “The Nigeria Union of Pensioners is apolitical.
However, individual members of the NUP are free to join political parties and vote for candidates of their choice in any organized elections” The pensioners in Ekiti State also made the door of their Secretariat open to all the 35 gubernatorial candidates and those wishing to see them should be prepared to present their manifestoes orally and on paper with reference to how they would pay the arrears of retirement benefits. Of the 35 candidates, only 12 of them met with the pensioners and explained how they would honour their (pensioners’) requests if they win the election. Pensioners in Osun State are advised to learn from what happened to a section of their colleagues in Oyo State. The retired primary school teachers supported Senator Ladoja of the Accord Party in preference to Senator Ajimobi of the APC during the Oyo State gubernatorial election. Ajimobi won the election and his administration did not pay the retirement benefits of those who voted for his opponent. When the affected pensioners complained, they were asked to go to the candidate they supported for the payment of their retirement benefits. Pensioners in Osun State should be very careful in interacting with the gubernatorial candidates in the September 2018 gubernatorial election. A word is sufficient for the wise! -Deacon Dapo Omotoso, Ado-Ekiti.
Osun Govt. forthcoming in pension payment; protesters are paid mischief-makers
The State Government of Osun is very committed to the payment of pension and gratuity of its retired workers. This has always been demonstrated in every occasion where the government will go out of its way to make sure that both the active and inactive workers are paid their entitlements in spite of the paucity of fund. No genuine retired workers in the state will go out to protest on the lies and political statement they call non-payment of pension and gratuity. Any pensioner that does that should be checked, he or she might be paid mischief-maker and blackmailer. We wish to remind the general public that this set of pensioners were persistent in their show of shame and political gathering called protest between June and July last year when we were about to conduct the Osun West Senatorial District Bye election. They disappeared into the thin air immediately after the election. Seeing them on the street this time around is not surprising, they have been obviously paid to blackmail the government like they did a year ago. For record purposes, the government had in February this year specially paid pensions and gratuity to a total number of 2006 pensioners who retired from Ministries, Departments, Agencies and parastatals service in 2011/2012 when the government released a sum of N1.2bn for such purpose. Cheques containing different amount of money was handed over to the pensioners by the Head of Service, Dr. Oyebade Olowogboyega. Of the N1.2bn, a sum of N200m was used to pay gratuity while an additional N200million was added in March for the payment of gratuity as well, making the total sum of N400m for gratuity payment. Also in May, a total sum of N200m was released for the payment of gratuities to retired officers on old pension scheme and another sum of N100million for the payment of contributory pensioners. The payment of the gratuity was done by the Head Service, Oyebade, on May 24 this year at the Local Government Service Commission Hall, Government Secretariat, Abere. The gratuity was paid to the senior civil citizens of the state who processed their papers at the Teachers’ Establishment and Pensions Office (TEPO), Secondary School Teachers, Parastatals as well as those from some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
A total of 720 retired public servants under the old scheme were also given part payment of their gratuity. In the same May of this year, the government released a sum of N1.8bn bond to the retired workers under the Contributory Pension Scheme in the state. More than 210 civil servants were given the bond certificates. 171 retired officers and 39 retired workers from the local government received their bond certificates totalling N1.6bn and N200m respectively. A sum of N40 million was also released to a fresh set of 400 pensioners in the state. The sum was paid to 148 retired secondary school teachers, 250 retired civil servants, and two retired parastatals workers. Of the money, a sum of N25m, N14.8m and N200, 000 were paid to the retired civil servants, teachers and parastatals workers respectively. With these interventions, it is out of place to say that the administration Aregbesola is insensitive to the plight of pensioners. The protesting pensioners are out for cheap blackmail against the administration of Aregbesola. It is on record that this group of pensioners had at one time or the other in the past lied against the Government of the State of Osun. Government wishes to call the attention of the good people of the State of Osun to the fact that the 2011/2012 group of pensioners does not represent the totality of pensioners in the state. The 2011/2012 pensioners are politicians and not pensioners. They are in pursuit of political matter. It amounts to ingratitude, mischief and politicization of facts to accuse Aregbesola of not paying pension and gratuity. It is very unfortunate that some of our senior citizens allowed themselves to be used by politicians to disrupt the ongoing progress of the state – Adelani Baderinwa, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, State of Osun.
Expose Aregbesola’s lies
The suffering pensioners in Osun State will surely appreciate your noble efforts to expose the lies being peddled all around by the Government of Osun State under Gov. Aregbesola. One: Pensioners were owed 35 months’ arrears half-salary. Two: Gratuity not paid to workers since 2011. Three: Those who joined contributory pension scheme are the worst for it as their deductions were not paid to the appropriate pension fund administrators. While the contributors are suffering and dying, PFAs are declaring trillions of Naira in their accounts! – Dele, Iwo.
Who, then, is speaking the truth? Or, better put, who will arise and speak the truth on this matter, seeing that politics appears to have crept into it on all fronts? We shall continue to dig until we get to the bottom of the pot.
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