IBADAN – Pensioners in Oyo State, under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), have said that the implementation of the 142 per cent pension arrears by the Abiola Ajimobi administration had made most of them emergency millionaires.
Consequently, Governor Ajimobi was decorated as the Best Pensioner-Friendly Governor in the history of the state at an occasion they called Pensioners’ Congress and award-giving ceremony here,the state capital which drew pensioners from all the 33 local government areas of the state.
The state chief executive was decorated with the award by the National President of the union , Dr. Abel Afolayan, represented by the General Secretary, Elder Actor Zal.
Speaking through the state Chairman, Alhaji Ganiyu Biyawo Azeez , the pensioners described the governor’s gesture as unprecedented, saying that none of his predecessors had yielded to the entreaties by the pensioners to implement the increase.
The Chairman, whose speech was read by the State Secretary of the union, Comrade Olusegun Abatan, said that the agitation had forced the members to embark on incessant strike sometimes resulting in the lock down of the state secretariat as well as the Governor’s Office, all to no avail.
According to him , “ Between 2003 and 2007, we demonstrated several times. In fact, on July 29, 2005, we had to lock up the Oyo State Government secretariat.”
Said he : “Past administrations in this state made several unfulfilled promises to the union. These included promises to place pensioners on 150 per cent, 30 per cent and 142 per cent pension increases from 1999 to 2011. The union had to lock down the secretariat several times before pensioners were placed on 150 per cent and 30 per cent in year 2005.”
“They told pensioners that no governor can implement 142 per cent pay rise for pensioners. But you and your government have proved them wrong by implementing it. By the time some pensioners collected this money, many of them became millionaires overnight,”he deposed .
“Some even collected up to N8 million, even when they did not collect up to N100,000 as gratuity when they retired,”
“Part of the agreement signed by government and the union is also the payment of six per cent and 15 per cent pension increase. Ajimobi pledged to honour and he did honour it in February 2013,”the Chairman said.
To demonstrate the governor’s modesty, Azeez said that he (Ajimobi) had in 2014 declined the award when the union mooted the idea, insisting that he would not receive such award until he was able to put primary school teachers who retired from January 2013 on payroll.
He also lauded the governor for granting the harmonization of the pension of retired Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries, adding that this was aside the donation of an operational bus to the union, a feat which he said had placed the union at par with its counterparts in some states in the South-West.
While describing the governor as pensioner-friendly, the NUP Chairman acknowledged the governor’s humility and friendly disposition to pensioners by being the first governor in the history of the state to attend the union’s meeting at its secretariat.
“ It is also to your credit that there had not been any demonstration against you by Oyo State pensioners since the inception of your administration ,”he added .
The union leader said that “ It is as a result of the kind and humane manner you have been handling the affairs of pensioners in the state, the result of which has earned you today the award of “The Best Pensioner-Friendly Governor in the history of Oyo State .
In his remarks, Governor Ajimobi expressed appreciation to the pensioners for deeming it fit for the award, saying that it borne out of the cordial relationship which had been existing between him and the pensioners since the inception of his administration.