Thousands of pensioners in Osun State on Tuesday shutdown all activities in the state government secretariat in Osogbo to protest non-payment of their entitlements.
The protesters are drawn from Primary and Secondary Teachers retirees. And they were being owed by previous administration of former Governor Governor Rauf Aregbesola under the Contributory Pension Scheme.
The aggrieved pensioners stormed the Osun State Government Secretariat at Abere, on Tuesday, November 23, holding placards that displayed their agitations.
Some of the placards which addressed the state Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, read, “Gov. Oyetola, Stop this lying and fake promises. Pay us our money,”, “we are dying of hunger”, “Masses, help us we are dying”, “Dead people cannot enjoy infrastructure”, among others.
CityMirrorNews Correspondent who monitored the protest said the that the protesters accused governor Oyetola of recieving billions of naira, still, he defaulted in payment of pensions of retirees.
Speaking, one of the protesters, Adebayo Micheal said Governor Oyetola has refused to give them their gratitude/pensions and 29 months half salary arrears since 2016 till date.
He further explained that though the state government had gone on air announcing the release of millions of naira to Pensioners saying to their own amazement, the claims by the state government was very far from the truth .
He hinted that they would continue to protest until their plights are considered.
He said: “We would continue to protest until state government respond to our demand. We worked and contributed so we can have our contributory Pension to be useful for us.
“Nobody or party is bankrolling us against the government we are concern about our money. Hunger forced us to the street to embark on protest.
“We have people in Ibadan, Lagos and many places who can help us but they always hear the news that state government release money for us , by that that they hold back meanwhile the money is not going round. The Head of Service announcement that government is releasing money for is false. We are coming here on 29.
Echoing a similar views, another Protester , Mrs Salami Bamidele said: “From the way you talk, I can see that you don’t have regard for us. If you truly prioritize us and know that we are hungry since last year December that we have been protesting it should have improve.
“You are claiming that you have paid our money but it is a lie. You are releasing 708 million monthly what get to we that are under contributory pensioner is very small, it is very small compare to our population. We met the governor in July 2021 because the money is not enough and he promised us that he will improve on it . We did not see any difference as Government continue to give us 150 million in March and April which is not even every month.
“2016 retirees who have not collected anything are about 600. The recent money that they release recently only 76 of us benefitted. We are dying, battling with sickness.
“You claimed that the present administration is battling with backlog, it is so unfortunate, government is continuity, any body that get to the seat of government will inherit both asset and liability, that an administration left debt for us shouldn’t be part of what you are saying because you are of the same party.
“The person that incurred the debt on the state is from your party, since you know that there was mismanagement of government resources, you should have notify EFCC to arrest him… I am very sure if he is from another party he would have been arrested by now. Your party is not telling you not to arrest him at the detriment of we the retirees. All those who are punishing us shall taste suffering.”
Addressing the Pensioners, Osun State Deputy Governor, Mr Benedict Alabi appealed to the protesting pensioners to exercise patience saying the Government is working tirelessly to ensure they all get their Pension.
Alabi said: “We are ensuring that we are paying full salary promptly. The truth will always be true and false will be false. This money in question, we can not pay at once.
“You are very important to us and we are handling your matter as a priority. We don’t like the way you are under the scorching sun, it is not good enough for you and us.
“To sort out the issue of pensioners, your leadership picked November 29, 2021, to meet with the government.
“I am sure as the deputy governor of this state the outcome of the meeting will serve your interest as we will add to money they use to release on monthly basis. Governor Oyetola will always fulfil his promise. Let us be patient till the end of the meeting.”
Meanwhile, the state government had in a statement issued by the Head of Service, Dr. Festus Olowogboyega Oyebade announced the release of the sum of Seven Hundred and Eight Million Naira (708,000,000.00) to pay pensions of retirees in the State.