…beg Aregbesola to settle them before leaving office
Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
Pensioners in Osun State, on Tuesday, trooped to the streets of Osogbo, out in large numbers, to protest the non-payment of their gratuities and pension arrears running into 18 months.
The senior citizens, who converged at the popular Ayetoro Junction, were armed with placards with different inscriptions such as ‘Aregbesola, pay our pensions’, ‘ur members are dying’, ‘over 2000 of our members have died’, ‘stop the avoidable deaths’, ‘Aregbesola, where is our bail out?’, among others.
Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in the state, Prince Ganiyu Salawu, while addressing journalists during the procession, said the government was currently owing them over 18 months pension arrears and gratuities.
Salawu lamented that the non- payment of pension arrears and gratuities had thrown the members into penury, leaving them highly impoverished so much that they could hardly afford daily means, pay their children’s school fees, house rents and other bills.
He further lamented that over 2,000 of his members had died of hunger and diverse sicknesses due to inability to afford medical care.
Salawu also accused Governor Rauf Aregbesola of shortchanging them, claiming that several billions of naira released to the state by the Federal Government in form of bail out to pay the arrears to the state had been diverted for other projects, leaving the pensioners stranded.
READ ALSO: 36 APC Reps dump party for ADC, PDP
“It is unequivocal that Governor Aregbesola and the labour union have perfected how to completely enslave the innocent workers. The level of suffering is alarming and unimaginable,” he said.
“The essence of federal allocations is to cater for the welfare of the people for them to live good life. But on the contrary, Aregbesola has used money meant to pay salaries and pensions to execute inflated contracts to satisfy his selfish interest.
“It is also very unfortunate that we have dishonourable members in the Osun State House of Assembly, those who could not protect the interests of the people they represent.
“If truly we have serious representatives in that parliament, how come the governor incurred that huge debt under their nose, and nothing could be done to prevent such financial recklessness.
“We are hereby calling every stakeholder in Osun and the Federal government to come to our rescue and save our members from further death,” he said.
Salawu said the protest would be total this time round, adding that it would go on for three consecutive days until government settles his members.
He said no pensioners had been given the 33 per cent increase since it was implemented in 2010, while the 42 percent that was paid for some times has also been stopped.
He said that efforts to have a dialogue with the government had been futile as appointments booked with the governor since March had not been acknowledged despite about six reminders that accompanied the letter.
He pleaded with Aregbesola to pay up the arrears of the pensions and arrears before he leaves office in a few months time and make life meaningful to them.