The Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikare has described the recent protest by pensioners over payment of gratuities to retirees as politically motivated.
The commissioner stated this while addressing Journalists in Benin City, adding that the state government paid N1billion as gratuity to pensions last year and has earmarked N15 billion to clear pension and gratuities in 2023.
He said, “Our investigation showed that the protest was instigated and politically motivated for a purpose, as the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential rally was held a day after the protest by pensioners in Benin City. They were instigated by those who caused their gratuity not to be paid to them.
“The Edo State Government under Governor Godwin Obaseki has paid pension and all the arrears of pension to those owed and those inherited as no pensioner today has been owed pension. Also gratuity of those that retired before 2016 when this present administration came on board are being paid.
“Those pensioners we are having problems with are those that retired under the Governor Adams Oshiomhole-led administration, whose reckless government created this pension problem that the Obaseki’s administration is trying hard to resolve. We have been having engagement with the pensioners on the payment of their gratuity. Last year, the Edo State Government paid N1 billion as gratuity.”
“We want people to know that these protesters were not telling the truth when they said no gratuity has been paid since 2011. We have started paying the arrears and budgeted another N1 billion for the arrears of gratuity being owed. Every month, the Edo State Government budgets N100 million for payment of gratuity. This year 2023, we have budgeted N15.1 billion to pay pension and gratuity,” he noted.
He said it is not true that Edo State Government is owing gratuities as N1 billion has been paid to pensioners in the state, adding that in 2023, another N1 billion will be paid to pensioners in the state.
The commissioner added, “Some of these protesters who spoke on television said their gratuity has not been paid since 2011. Oshiomhole was in government from 2011 till 2016. Obaseki took over in November 2016. All those that protested, none retired after 2016 or 2017 but retired under Oshiomhole who refused to pay them their pension but yet made themselves available to be used as a political instrument to embarrass the Obaseki’s administration but they have failed.”
According to him, the Obaseki-led government has gotten commendations around the world from experts on how effective the government has been in pension payment and also sorting out the issues of gratuity.
He noted, “We have a process of managing our resources to enable us to have a young, strong and well educated work force which are the young people of today. We have migrated them into a contributory pension scheme that takes care of their gratuity and pension when they are about to retire and they are enjoying it.”