By Timothy Agbor, Osogbo
The State Government of Osun on Monday, 24th March, 2014, reiterated its commitment to the welfare of workers both serving and retired against the background of protests by some retirees against the delay in the payment of their pensions.
The Government said it has continued to open its financial books to all stakeholders (pensioners inclusive) with a view to informing them what causes the alleged delay in the payment.
A statement signed by the Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Semiu Okanlawon, noted, “While acknowledging the rights of the retirees to demand for their rights, they must also be reminded that the current administration has a rich history of pro-workers policies among which are unprecedented increase in pension payments and timely payment of salaries of workers throughout the state among others.
“The alleged delay in the payment of the pensions cannot be divorced from the escalating revenue crisis across Nigeria. All the states across the federation have been telling Nigerians the dangers that lie in the unending dwindling revenues from the centre.
“Nigerians should be reminded that Governor Aregbesola was the first to warn Nigerians of the financial crisis in states should the sharp decline in revenue to states remain unstopped.
“Not forgetting the fact that Osun ranks number 34 on the revenue allocation table, many states with higher revenue collection profiles such as Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and others have been shouting over the debilitating impact of the revenue shortfall.”
The statement reminded all that the Nigerian media have been awash of recent with crushing tales of the shortfall in revenues to states adding “That Osun has been able to pay salaries and continued with the various developmental projects are enough to earn the Aregbesola administration kudos in the face of the cash crunch.
“It should be noted that prior to this administration, about N142million went into the payment of retirees from local government and primary schools. It was this administration that raised the bar and ensured that what is committed to their pension monthly is almost N500million and these are outside the sums paid to secondary school retirees and state civil service workers.
“Prior to the end of 2013, the State of Osun ensured payment of workers’ salaries on 25th of every month. This was part of the resolutions of the current government to ensure that workers are well motivated to ensure robust productivity.
“We need to remind our retirees that in the face of reduction of revenues by about 40 per cent of what are due to the states, all hands must be on deck to ensure that we navigate the storming waters for a stable state.
“We are also quite aware of desperate politicians who want to score cheap political points and capitalize on the grievances of the retirees. Our retirees should be kind and bold enough to ask whoever wants to exploit the situation for political advantage what could be the reason for the persistent reduction in the revenues when Nigeria is not in a state of war and there is no problem in the international oil market.”
The statement called on pensioners and other stakeholders to join the various governments across the country to demand why the revenues accruing to the states are on a downward slide rather than ambush state governments that have employed all ingenious means to ensure the welfare of their serving and retired workers.