Like their counterparts in other states of the federation, civil servants who retired from the Adamawa State Civil Service are having a harrowing time, waiting almost endlessly for the pittance that ought to be paid to them as gratuity and pension, both of which have not been paid.
It goes without saying that every civil servant aims to retire hapipily and in good health when he attains retirement age. When that day comes, he expects to be paid gratuity, while the government works out his pension benefits and subsequently begins to pay. It is so sad that after working for 35 years or attaining 60 years, civil servants cannot get their gratuity. This is the pathetic situation in Adamawa State, where in some cases the retirees die without getting their gratuity. Even their next of kin do not get paid the entitlements of their husband or father as the case may be. The result is that the unpaid gratuities have been accumulating as more civil servants retire from the state civil service.
As at February 2016, the amount of unpaid gratuities and pensions stood at N30 billion naira.
It is understood that the administration of former governor Murtala Nyako, refused to release funds to the Adamawa State Pension Commission to pay gratuity. The current situation has been compounded by embezzlement of the little amount being released.
This is a great injustice being done to low cadre retirees that gave the greater part of their lives in the service of the state. The government has an overriding responsibility to pay off a reasonable part of the accumulated gratuities as it does not augur well to allow the unpaid gratuities to keep piling up.
It is even more compelling now for the state to adopt the contributory pension scheme in order to streamline the payment of gratuity. The non-payment of gratuity has demoralized the entire civil service and weakened the earlier belief that being in the civil service provides post-retirement security. The perception of the average civil servant in Adamawa State is that continued stay in civil service amounts to a waste of time as the person would get nothing in return after retiring. It is imperative for the present administration to ponder on this problem as the non-payment of gratuity to the civil servants is sending a dangerous signal to the up-coming generation of leaders that working for government is not attractive as the person would not be paid gratuity after retiring. If this trend continues, there is the likelihood that the public service would hold no appeal for the next generation.
Therefore, something urgent needs to be done to redress this problem. The government definitely needs to deal with the cankerworm. That is the only way to boost the morale of the state’s workforce.
A stitch in time save nine.
► Usman Santuraki wrote from Jambutu, Jimeta-Yola via email: [email protected]