The Ekiti State Government and the State chapter of the People’s Democractic Party (PDP) on Saturday disagreed over the alleged plot by the former to deduct gratuities of pensioners by 15 percent.
The opposition PDP accused Governor Kayode Fayemi of colluding with a Lagos- based private company, United Capital Plc, to loot over N6 billion from pensioners in the State.
The party described the government’s alleged new scheme, in which pensioners desirous of getting their gratuities and pensions are made to sign-off 15 percent of their entitlements as ‘wicked’, ‘callous’ and ‘fraudulent’.
In a statement in Ado-Ekiti on Saturday by the Ekiti PDP Caretaker Committee Secretary, Prince Diran Odeyemi, the party blamed Fayemi for the accumulated pensions and gratuities in the State.
The PDP explained that Fayemi during his first tenure refused to pay retirees and stopped allocating fund to the Pension Transition Arrangement Department even when the state was receiving N7 billion as monthly allocation and over N46 billion from the Excess Crude Account.
The party asked further: “We want to ask Governor Fayemi if contractors in the State who are being paid with borrowed funds are also made to part with 15 percent of the contract sum as condition to get paid.
“When Governor Fayemi returned as Governor in 2018, he introduced favouritism to the payment of entitlements of retiree, as he chose to pay retired Permanent Secretaries who retired in 2018 and 2019, with gratuities ranging between N12 million and N15 million and monthly pension running to over N400,000 each, while the junior ones, who are the most vulnerable with gratuity not more than N2 million and monthly pension less than N30,000 were left unpaid.”
Odeyemi alleged the State Government was going to borrow over N40 billion to pay the pensioners, asking; “If a government is borrowing money that will be repaid by the pensioners and other indigenes of the State, including those yet to be born, how sensible is it to still make the pensioners part with 15 percent of their entitlement?”
He accused Governor Fayemi of seeking to eat from the sweat of the pensioners, alleging a suspicion Governor will be getting10 percent out of the 15 percent to be deducted from the pensioners’ entitlement.
But Special Adviser to Governor Kayode Fayemi on Investment, Mr Akin Oyebode, had while appearing on a programme in Ado Ekiti explained that Ekiti has paid the pensioners N1.2 billion out of over N14 billion owed by paying N100 million monthly to defray the backlog of pension and gratuity arrears.
The Special Adviser said Fayemi jacked up monthly payment of the arrears from N10 million being paid by Governor Ayodele Fayose to N100 million monthly, saying this indicated the Governor has the interest of the pensioners at heart and has no reason whatsoever to dupe them as alleged by the opposition.
Oyebode said COVID- 19 has reduced the Federal allocation accruing to the state and it was becoming practically impossible to pay pension and gratuity.
This, he said, was responsible for why a special arrangement was made to pay the outstanding arrears with those who have interest of collecting whatever due to them now parting with 15 percent of the money.
“Governor Kayode Fayemi was not happy that people worked for 35 years without collecting what are due to them. The Governor said with payment of N100 million monthly, some of the pensioners might not take their benefits till they die and that informed the reason why we deliberated at the executive council to bring an investor to pay the money at once.
“Under this arrangement, what we intend to do is to bring an investor to pay the money to individual once with 15 percent deduction, but those who want to stick with monthly payment won’t suffer any deduction, they will be collecting it on tranches until it is paid. It is voluntary.
“But a pensioner might even negotiate for one or two years spread in payment and if that one is adopted, the percentage of deduction will be lower. The 15 percent is for those who want the money paid at once and it is not compulsory .
“We have not spent up two years, we have paid N1.2 billion unlike those who spent four years and paid like N440 million out of the arrears owed . We are determined to make them happy .
“But we are assuring our pensioners that whatever arrangements we are putting in place shall involve all their members. They will all participate in the arrangements and the best method that will make them happy shall be adopted,” Oyebode said.