By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
Governor, Godwin Obaseki on Monday afternoon engaged aggrieved pensioners in Edo state in a shouting match over unpaid N4 billion pension arrears.
He told the pensioners that he cannot be intimidated by their threats, alleging that the Pensioners were been sponsored by a leading opposition party to discredit his government.
Obaseki disclosed this at a forum to mark the 2017 Word Pensioners Day Celebrations held at the state Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
He drew the flake of the Pensioners who accused the governor of been economical with the truth regarding how the two tranches of the Paris Club funds which accused to the state and Local Government Councils in the state were spent.
The governor said he had already paid the sum of N6.1 billion out of the accumulated N10 billion pension debt his government inherited from the past government between 1999 and the year 2000.
According to him, “let people not create confusion so that we can solve the problems of pensioners. We want to solve the pension problems by the grace of God, and we will resolve the problems. I cannot be intimidated”.
He charged the senior Citizens to show understanding and cooperate with his government to resolve the imbroglio which he claimed had further be compounded by lack of visionary leadership on the part of those who provided governance at the grassroots levels.
He vowed to pay the outstanding pension arrears in the next 36 months with the monthly N100 monthly fund his government has set aside for the payment of pension arrears.
Earlier, state chairman of the Nigeria union of Pensioners (NUP), Comrade Pulled Noruwa, drew the state government attention to the plight of Pensioners in the state and demanded that the monthly N100 million set aside by the state government for the payment of pensioners arrears should be increased to N500 million monthly.
He sougt for explanation for the withdrawal of the screening documents from a significant number of Pensioners without payment, and protested the non-implementation of the differential pension arrears increment.
Noruwa also charged the state government to urgently inaugurate the Bureau of Pensions Board which had been dissolved by the previous government over allegations of fraud.
Efforts by the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Emmanuel Ademokun who was present at the meeting to reach a deal with the aggrieved pensioners proved abortive.