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Ekiti Pensioners Cry Foul Over Exclusion From Bail Out Fund

* TUC Issues Ultimatum for Payment of Salary Arrears

By Ayodele Afolabi

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Pensioners in Ekiti State are angry over the decision of the Ayo Fayose administration to exclude them from the N9.6 billion bailout money released from the Central Bank to settle salary arrears and other allowances owed workers.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has also given the state government a deadline of Tuesday to credit the accounts of civil servants with the arrears of their September 2014 salaries, 2014 and 2015 leave bonuses among other benefits.

The union threatened to make Ekiti state ungovernable by staging a ‘massive protest’ if the government fails to accede to their demands.

The Nigerian Union of Pensioners, NUP Secretary, Rufus Ogedengbe, in a chat with reporters on Wednesday said the pensioners were “shocked” when the Head of Service, Gbenga Faseluka, revealed at a meeting held with them on Tuesday that they would no longer benefit from the bailout funds.

Faseluka had during a press briefing to mark the commencement of Civil Service Week said the bailout funds would only accommodate the arrears of pensions but would not cover arrears of gratuities.

Ogedengbe said the latest disclosure that pension arrears would no longer be paid from the bailout funds was a shocker they would not be able to bear urging government to do everything possible to find a solution to the problem.

He said: “On Tuesday, the Head of Service called us on the issue of bailout and we were told that the bailout fund does not cover pensions and gratuities for both state government pensioners and local government pensioners.

“We received the information from the Head of Service with shock, we were very surprised because we thought that that this is an opportunity for the government to pay the debt owed our members.

“We asked why and they told us that government will continue to try to find ways to address the issue of indebtedness. We will continue to pressurize the government to do something about this”.

The Chairman of TUC in the state,  Kolawole Olaiya, who deplored the delay in payment of outstanding salaries and benefits to civil servants declared the readiness of the union to stage a protest next week if workers are not paid latest by Tuesday.

Olaiya who spoke on Thursday in Ado Ekiti, the state capital also warned government against diverting the bailout funds saying workers would make the state ungovernable if there is proven evidence that any government official, no matter how highly placed, diverts the money.

Olaiya praised the Muhammadu Buhari administration for giving relief to workers through the bailout funds.

He warned state government against playing games over the bailout funds stressing that failure to pay workers latest by Tuesday might spark industrial crisis as the workers’ patience have been overstretched.

Olaiya said: “We have been expecting individual accounts of workers to be credited but the governor has been approbating and reprobating. By Tuesday, if workers’ accounts are not credited, there will be problems in Ekiti State.

“Our leave bonus for two years (2014 and 2015), September 2014 salary arrears, arrears of deductions are there, whether that of pensioners is there, I don’t know.

“All these must be given to workers latest by Tuesday, if this is not done there will be problems.”

Warning against any plan to divert the fund for the purpose it was meant, Olaiya declared: “Should the state government divert it and we have the evidence, we will make the state ungovernable for anybody who diverts the money.

“Now that the state government has fulfilled conditions to access the funds, if any government diverts it, it will not be palatable for that government.

“All these governors are greedy, any governor that does not make workers’ priority, we will not take it because workers are wallowing in poverty and this so-called minimum wage is too meager, it can’t take them home.”


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