By Rotimi Ojomoyela
Ado-Ekiti-In a desperate bid to reduce post-retirement poverty in Ekiti State, the Governor Kayode Fayemi led administration on Monday commenced the payment of gratuity to its retirees.
At an event to mark the commencement of the exercise, which according to Governor Fayemi, would henceforth become a monthly affair, cheques totaling One Hundred Million Naira (#100 Million) were distributed to some retirees in the State.
Fayemi said he was aware that the monthly release of #100 million to defray the #12 Bilulion debt would only cater for a sizeable number of the retirees on a monthly basis, adding that his administration is considering various options to liquidate the huge debt “in no distant time”.
The Ekiti state Governor who acknowledged the contributions of the retirees to the development of the State promised to alleviate the sufferings of the senior citizens by making regular payment of their benefits a top priority.
“I feel your pulse, I know your plights and I am ready to alleviate your sufferings by making regular payment of your benefits a top priority. It is a fact that you have toiled for the development of the State. So you should not be subjected to hardship in any form. I assure you that within the available resources, your entitlements will be paid as and when due”, he said.
Governor Fayemi said the monthly release of #100 million is a demonstration of his commitment to ensuring that those who had used their productive years to serve the State have maximum enjoyment in their post-retirement years.
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He, however, expressed regret that some of the retirees had died while waiting for their entitlements.
Earlier, the outgoing Executive Secretary in the Pension Transition Arrangement Department, Mr Akinjide Akinleye had put the indebtedness on gratuities in the State Civil Service at #12, 730,172,947.35.
He stated that the last administration was committing #10 million monthly to the payment of exit benefits; a gesture which would have seen the government clear the backlog in 100 years.
Akinleye disclosed that 88 pensioners would benefit from the monthly release of #100 million.
Also speaking, the State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) Elder Ayo Kumapayi thanked the governor for increasing the monthly gratuity from #10 million to #100 million, saying the gesture has renewed hope of receiving the exit benefits among the pensioners.
Kumapayi who described Fayemi as a promise keeper said the Governor had shown what good governance is stated that the governor had ensured that pensioners get their monthly pension at the same time that active workers receive alerts of their salaries.
“we pensioners have been suffering before but you gave us hope. When you were campaigning, you made some promises to us and today you have shown that you are a promise keeper. When we approached you that we wanted to be paid pension at the same time the active workers are paid and the subsequent month, it happened. During the last administration, nobody knew when pension would be paid but now, my people can relax and expect their pension at month end. Indeed, you are pensioners friend”, Kumapayi stated.