The Edo State Government has said it is committed to offsetting pensioners’ gratuities despite the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and lull in crude prices on government revenues
In a statement, Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Hon. Andrew Emwanta JP reiterated that the government pays pensions to pensioners on or before the 26th of every month and does not owe any pension to date.
He noted that the agitation by some pensioners early in the week in Benin City was majorly a consequence of disagreement among members of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) over statutory deduction of one percent from their pensions in favour of the Union, as check-off dues.
Emwanta said: “Much as the issue of gratuity was mentioned, it was rather unfortunate that the Edo State Government was caught in the crossfire over the disagreement between members of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners and their leadership. While some members of the Union are in support of the statutory deduction, others are against it.”
According to him, “the State Government is not in default, as far as the issue of monthly pension is concerned. Regarding payment of gratuities, the existing backlog, which predates this present administration, will continue to receive attention from Government, in spite of the dwindling allocations from the Federation Account.
“Unlike in other States where salaries and pensions are being owed or paid in part, the present Government of Edo State has placed a premium on the welfare of the elderly and all workers on the payroll of the State Government.”
He therefore urged those aggrieved to exercise restraint, in order not to allow political merchants of doom to take advantage of the situation.
The Commissioner further added that “it is without doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected the revenue of Governments, the world over and Edo State is not an exception.”
“Several issues revolve around the payment of pensions and gratuities. As a responsible and responsive Government led by a time-trusted and seasoned technocrat, there was a need to prioritize between regular payment of pensions and dealing with the backlog of gratuities, which were inherited from previous administration in the State.
“In the 2022 appropriation, there are plans to address the underlying issues around payment of gratuities.
In furtherance of the provisions of the life assurance component of the contributory pension scheme, the present administration in Edo State has consistently paid premiums on behalf of its insured employees, resulting in timely payment of death benefits to beneficiaries of deceased civil or public servants.”