From Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
Osun State pensioners, yesterday, threatened to make the state ungovernable for Governor Rauf Aregbesola if he failed to pay their gratuities and pension arrears from the second tranche of the Paris Club refund paid into the state’s coffers by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Monday.
For the second time, in a month, the retirees, under the aegis of 2011/2012 Pensioners Forum, yesterday, protested what they described as “wicked and inhuman attitude of the governor’s deliberate refusal to pay their one year pension arrears.”
The pensioners, numbering over 1,000 had converged on the frontage of the Osun State Secretariat complex main gate and prevented civil servants and other top government officials from entering their offices.
Chanting anti-government songs and displaying placards, with various inscriptions, they vowed to make Osun ungovernable should Aregbesola failed to pay their outstanding pension allowance from the loan refund.
In a chat with newsmen during the protest, which halted vehicular movements from the Owode end of Gbongan-Ibadan Expressway, Chairman of 2011/2012 pensioners, Omoniyi Ilesanmi, said: “We are the people who worked diligently after the creation of Osun State. Aregbesola should use the N6.3 billion Paris loan refund he just got to pay us our pension allowance, otherwise he would find this state ungovernable.”
Meanwhile, the government has condemned the pensioners’ action, insisting that it is unjustifiable.
A statement by the Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Semiu Okanlawo, yesterday said the pensioners’ claim about a month ago that government had collected the fund but diverted it was misinformation since government got the fund only on Monday.
Okanlawon said the protesters had to consider it as a responsibility to apologise to government and the people of the state for the wrong information and for breaching public peace through their series of protests.
“It is interesting to note that about a month ago, this same set of pensioners accused Governor Aregbesola of collecting and diverting the second tranche of Paris loan refund, which they claimed had been released to Osun State by the Federal Government.
As they have come out today, they have a duty to actually apologise not only to Aregbesola’s administration, but also to the people of Osun State for misinforming, confusing and creating tension in the state through their false claim that the governor had received the second tranche of Paris loan refund about a month ago,” the statement said.
“Like we have said, Osun State Government, with its commitment to transparency under the leadership of Governor Aregbesola made the announcement on Tuesday to confirm the receipt of N6.314 billion as the second tranche of Paris loan refund from the CBN.
“The money was paid into the account of the state government on Monday and we duly made the announcement yesterday (Tuesday), informing the public that Osun had got the second tranche of Paris loan refund.”