From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Following the global spike in new COVID-19 infections, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, has cautioned pensioners in the state to avoid large gatherings, maintain physical distancing and adhere strictly to other safety protocols established to curb the spread of the virus.
The governor made the appeal in Ado-Ekiti on Tuesday when he presented a one hundred million naira cheque for the payment of gratuities to 41 local government and primary school retirees in the state.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, said the payment of the gratuities was in fulfilment of his promises to ensure that pensioners enjoy a worthy life after their meritorious service to the state.
Governor Fayemi reiterated his commitment to prioritising issues that affect the welfare and wellbeing of pensioners, with an assurance to sustain the techniques adopted in defraying outstanding gratuities in the state.
The governor promised to continue to use his position as the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum in pushing issues and policies affecting pensioners to the front burner of the federal government’s agenda.
While assuring that the government would continue to do its best to make life comfortable for retirees, Governor Fayemi urged the beneficiaries to expend the money on profitable ventures.
Speaking on the rising cases of COVID-19 across the world, the governor stressed the need for the elderly, who were considered as one of the most at-risk age groups, to take personal responsibility in observing measures put in place to curb the spread of the viral infection.
‘You have laboured for Ekiti State and now you are to collect the fruit of your labour and it speaks to the commitment of the government at ensuring that gratuity and pension are paid as at when due,’ Mr Oyebanji said, speaking for the governor.
‘It saddens the heart of the governor that many retirees that served their fatherland had not been paid their entitlement.
‘The governor is desirous of leading a frontal attack on all the liabilities that our pensioners are due for both in Ekiti State and as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
‘Pensions and gratuities payment would continue to be on the front burner of the government policies as long as you have the governor piloting the affairs of this state and pensioners can go to bed knowing full well that issues that affect their welfare and well being will continue to get primary attention of this government.
‘I can assure that before this government winds down there would be more batches many people that have not been paid would be paid. My advice is that as we collect this we should make judicious use of it.
‘I will advise also that as we celebrate Christmas and New year we should be guided and be reminded that COVID-19 is back
‘And science tells us that the second wave is deadlier than the first wave, from history we learnt that the second wave is always more turbulent, so I will advise our people to observe social distancing, to watch their hands and observe other identified COVID-19 protocol. If it is not compulsory for us to go anywhere as we celebrate Christmas and New year let us stay at home.’
In a related development, Governor Fayemi officially laid the foundation of the new Secretariat Complex of the union in Ado-Ekiti. Performing the event, the governor assured of his support in the timely completion of the project.
Earlier, the State Chairman of Nigeria Union of Pensioners in Ekiti, Elder Ayo Kumapayi, commended the governor for his policy on the payment of pensions and gratuities which has allowed members to fulfil their financial commitment to the union.
According to him, the new office complex was designed to accommodate an office, ICT section, a health section and a kitchen for the betterment of the members of the union.
Kumapayi disclosed that the funding of the various projects which his administration embarked upon was drawn majorly from check-off dues deduction.