Priscilla Ediare, Ado Ekiti
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State has accused Governor Kayode Fayemi of conniving with a Lagos-based private company, United Capital Plc, to plunder over N6 billion in state pension funds.
The party condemned a new scheme by the state government’s whereby pensioners are made to sign-off 15 per cent of their entitlements before receiving their gratuities and pensions.
A statement on Saturday by the Secretary of the Ekiti State PDP Caretaker Committee, Prince Diran Odeyemi, said:
‘During his first tenure when Ekiti State was receiving as much as N7 billion as monthly allocation and over N46 billion from the Excess Crude Account, Fayemi refused to pay retirees. He stopped allocating fund to the Pension Transition Arrangement Department in July 2012.
‘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 per cent of the contract sum as a condition to get paid.
‘When Governor Fayemi returned as governor in 2018, he introduced favouritism to the payment of entitlements of retirees, 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 said that 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 per cent of their entitlement?’
He accused Governor Fayemi of seeking to eat from the sweat of the pensioners, alleging a suspicion that the governor will be getting 10 per cent out of the 15 per cent to be deducted from the pensioners’ entitlement.
Responding to the allegations, which he branded as spurious and baseless, the Special Adviser to Governor Fayemi on Investment, Mr Akin Oyebode, had while appearing on a media 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.
The Special Adviser said Governor Fayemi jacked-up monthly payment of the arrears from N10 million being paid by former Governor Ayodele Fayose to N100 million monthly, saying this indicated that 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 the COVID-19 crisis had reduced the federal allocation accruing to the state and that it was becoming practically impossible to pay pensions and gratuities, pointing this as being responsible for why a special arrangement was made to pay the outstanding arrears with those who have the interest of collecting whatever due to them now parting with 15 per cent of their benefits.
‘Governor Kayode Fayemi was not happy that people worked for 35 years without collecting what is 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 an individual once with 15 per cent 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 the deduction will be lower. The 15 per cent 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.