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On their own: How Osun retirees are denied of their salaries and pensions


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  IF only Pa Amiola Sunday, a 64-year-old retired primary school headmaster, had foreseen the indignity waiting for him at the end of his career, he probably would have rejected the offer of employment given to him on the 1st of September 1981  by Oyo  State Universal Basic Education Board.

When The ICIR visited him at his rented single-room apartment around Fateema area of  Ikire (Irewole local government), he was seen seated on a bug-infested tattered mattress, looking through his window as if expecting a message.

But he was sightless.

Pa Amiola Sunday, a retired headmaster,  standing in front of his house located around Fatima area of Ikire. Photo Credit: Samad Uthman/The ICIR

Pa Amiola Sunday became blind after years of inability to pay medical bills to treat his defective eyes.

In 2015, a year after Amiola’s retirement, he was diagnosed with Glaucoma and other health challenges.

He would later expend his savings on the payment of medical bills,  and when that was not enough, he sold his six-room bungalow built around the Osun State University, Ikire Campus, and six motorcycles in order to offset his medical bills.

But all this was inadequate to save him from deteriorating health.

In fact, he was ejected from  Government Specialist hospital, Ibadan, Oyo state, where he is currently owing N5,000. 

Yet, his failed sight is just one out of other medical challenges he battles. 

In May 2017, Amiola’s wife left home one fateful afternoon without returning. Two years later, his four children also left the house without any note of their whereabouts.

People now donate food items for me. As you can see, someone just came to give me gaari. I can spend four to five days without eating. Our pastor comes to give me money. Our landlady also does give me money. This is the 4th year I have not paid for rent. They are no more collecting rent from me when they see my present condition with the notion that I repay whenever we are paid our entitlement. I can’t see,” Amiola told this reporter.  

Before the Covid-19 lockdown, Pa Amiola had resorted to begging for alms on the roads with a 9-year old boy taking him around the town of Ikire. Most times, he goes to schools to beg from students and visits churches and mosques on worship days.

Pa Amiola Sunday in his room. Photo Credit: Samad Uthman/ The ICIR

According to him, his situation may not have become worse if the then government of the state led by Rauf Aregbesola paid his seven months modulated salary arrears, gratuity and monthly pension.

For four years, the old man and many other retirees have been left stranded without payment,  a total violation of section 210 of the Nigerian Constitution subsection 2, which states that any benefit to which a person is entitled shall not be withheld or altered to his disadvantage. 

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Pa Amiola’s case is just one of many of Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) beneficiaries in the state who now wallow in abject poverty after long years of service. 

On the 1st of July 2015, Rauf Aregbesola, the immediate past governor of Osun State and the current Minister of Interior, introduced a new system of salary structure to the state due to the economy crisis caused by the global fall in the price of oil.

The salary structure popularly called “half salary” in the state was described in a post on the state’s website as the payment of “full salary to Workers in Grade Levels (GL) 1-7 and at least half or more to those on levels from 8 and above”. 

The system which was sustained in the state till the 1st of July 2018 had wrecked most retired civil servants in the state. 

Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) is housed in the Pension Reform Act 2004 which repealed the 1993 Nigerian social Insurance Trust Fund Act. 

CPS was enacted in 2004 partly as a result of the failure of the past scheme to address the pension needs of Nigerians and partly as a result of the quest by Stakeholders to evolve a scheme that can cater to both public and private sector employees. 

Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Osun State former Governor, gave assent to the establishment of the CPS for employees in the public service of Osun State and for other connected purposes on August 3, 2009. The law is the state’s domesticated version of the Pension Reform Act 2004 at the federal level and is referred to as Osun State Contributory Pension Law 2008. 

Under the scheme, both employer and the employee in the private and public sector contributes 7.5 percent each of their monthly emolument, while in the military sector, the employee contributes 2.5 percent and the employer 12.5 percent. 

The Act obliged the employer to deduct and remit contributions to the Pension Fund Custodian (PFC) not later than seven days after deduction, while the PFC must notify the Pension Fund Administrators within twenty-four hours of the receipt of such contributions.

According to the Act, an employee is to open a Retirement Savings Account (RSA), into which the contributions are to be paid, with a Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) licenced by the National Pension Commission. The PFA is to manage and invest the fund in the RSA, from where a contributor will draw benefits on retirement. Upon retirement, a certain percentage will be paid as Bond (lump sum) and the remaining will be collected monthly based on the agreement between the PFA and the employee.

The Bond varies based on length of service, age and salary level before retirement.

But this law is good only on paper as the state often defaults in contributing to the Retirement Savings Account (RSA). 

Section 8 sub-section 4 of the Osun State Contributory Pension Law 2008 stated that: A certificate of clearance shall be issued by the employer within 21 days of the employee’s retirement or dismissal from service, The ICIR investigation showed that many of these old retirees did not receive any certificate since four years.

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Lawrence’s sight is resting in peace before his soul

 

Amzat Lawrence Olatoyin, a pensioner who has been denied entitlement years after retirement. Now, he has lost his sight. PhotoCredit: Samad Uthman/ The ICIR

The wife and Children of Amzat Lawrence Olatoyin in  Ikire community in Osun State, while speaking with this reporter, were unable to hold their sadness over the present state of their father and husband due to the inadequate fund to take care of his eye problem. 

Now, the retired teacher who spent 35 years in service is yet to be paid several months of modulated salary arrears, gratuity and monthly pension allowance since 2016. 

Lawrence has finally lost his sight. 

 According to his wife, the family has spent so much to restore the eyes with the hope that the state government will pay back per the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) act which compels the payment of gratuity three months after retirement. With this, the family can not afford the price of drugs Lawrence uses on the eyes.

The wife who is a trader expressed with eyes full of tears and frustration that her petty retail shop where she sells provision has been shattered by her husband’s sickness after she has used-up all her profits and savings to cater for the family.  

This has also rendered their last-child of four out of school due to their inability to pay for his schooling fees again as feeding turned difficult for the family.

“I am a trader, when it got to a point, my business crashed. There is no money from my business again to finance my husband. Our last born is no more going to school. The older ones who are graduates are jobless. Feeding has not been easy” Mrs. Lawrence recounted with tears on her face. 

(L-R) Amzat Lawrence Oluwatoyin and his wife standing beside her tray full of bread. Behind her is the petty business surviving the family after her husband lost his sight. Photo Credit: Samad Uthman/ The ICIR

According to her, sometime in 2018, Lawrence was taken to a hospital in Ago-Iwoye in Ondo state for medical care. After running some tests on him, the hospital referred him to the University Teaching Hospital (Ibadan) where he was asked to pay #250,000/$650.11 (based on the prevailing dollar rate) for his medical care. He was not able to pay. Rather, he paid for some drugs prescribed by the hospital’s ophthalmologist. 

Striped by death, left to wander

Mistura Adetoro, the wife of the late Mudashir Adetoro Ahmed sitting beside the grave of her husband while speaking with The ICIR. Photo credit: Samad Uthman

Mudashir Adetoro Ahmed was stripped and gripped by the cold arms of death on September 21 2018, the same week slated for his retirement after spending hundreds of thousands of naira in taking care of himself against a liver problem.

He had spent 35 years in the teaching service just like others.

According to late Mudashir’s wife, Mistura Adetoro,  her husband’s protracted unpaid arrears made the living standard of the family depreciated to a level whereby all they had vanished as they now borrow to feed and pay the children’s school fees

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The mother of five explained that she lost her surviving business to the course of her husband’s illness where she spent all her savings.

Mistura now does menial jobs to take care of the family. 

Adetoro Babatunde Teslim, the first child of the late Mudashir Adetoro Ahmed. Photo Credit: Samad Uthman/ The ICIR

“This is where we buried him on September 21 2018”  the deceased’s first-child,  Adetoro Babatunde Teslim, said while pointing to his father’s tomb as he narrated how he rushed from Ogbomosho where he is planning to defend his final year thesis at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology to Ikire while he was told his father has been cheated of the battle with a liver problem.  

He lamented how it has been difficult for him and his mother to raise his other siblings’ needs.

Knocked by modulated salary, grounded by stroke

Oyatumbi Jacob Adekanmi, a retired headmaster at Ede-Dimeji community primary school (Ede-South). The left part of his body is now paralysed. Photo Credit: Samad Uthman/ The ICIR

After exiting the state teaching service as a headmaster at the Ede-Dimeji community primary school (Ede-South), the left part of Oyatumbi Jacob Adekanmi’s body has been paralysed and grounded by stroke due to unavailability of funds to take care of his health. 

During this reporter’s visit to his house in Oke-Iresi Ede, Ede South, the 65-year-old Jacob can not work without artificial support- crutches- and moving out of his vicinity has turned a great deal for him and his two wives after spending over N500,000 on regaining himself from the shackles of health complications.  

While the farm he inherited has been sold, he was forced to bite the bullet by selling his only means of transportation, his motorcycle, for a little amount of money amidst heavy debts he has incurred in the name of “Government will pay soon”. 

According to him, his 2 children in the federal polytechnic, Ede, has dropped out after he can no longer see them through in their academic sojourn financially.  

“My wives are working in private schools. They have been sacked. My children working in private primary schools are the ones giving the little amount they have been using to keep up. It was a gem that helped me reconnect my light some days ago. They didn’t give us our half salary arrears”, the old Jacob lost control over the tears welling up from his eyes while narrating his ordeal since he left service in 2017. 

According to Jacob, the Osun state government owes him 21 months salary arrears.

However, while Jacob suffers from stroke alone, Omotosho Moshood Tiamiyu, a retired teacher in Ede south local government has a compounded health problem. Aside from stroke, he is bedridden with blinded sight and high blood pressure. 

Aside stroke, the retired teacher, Omotosho Moshood Tiamiyu, he is also bedridden with blinded sight and high blood pressure. photo credit: Samad Uthman/ The ICIR

Early 2015, Moshood took a loan in a commercial bank worth over a million naira with the assurance that his salary is enough to shield him through the repayment set to be monthly. 

But, on the 1st of July 2015, Rauf Aregbesola’s introduction of modulated salary scheme ruptured Moshood’s plan which renders him incapacitated to fulfil his monthly repayment obligation. 

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While the interest of the loan keeps compounding, Moshood continued to collect half of his salary till 1st of July 2018. 

This three-year payment of ‘half-salary’ created a gap in his life and illness took over his health. 

According to Moshood’s wife, the thought of where to source for the loan repayment took a toll on him as he was diagnosed with High Blood Pressure. With this, Moshood resorted to consulting local herbalists for a cure since he can not afford the price in the hospital, still, none could save him from a stroke while his sight has left him.

The family of Moshood now depends on his wife’s singular milling machine and donations from friends and relatives before they can put something to mouth. 

His children have all been stopped from school.

“We had to stop my children from school. One of our children works in a shop where they wash keg and get #10,000 per month. My children are adopted. People now help to take care of my children after working for them”, he said with a shaky voice full of thoughts. 

Moshood’s health is worsened due to his exposure to cold and harsh weather because he lives in a house without a ceiling which makes him and his family vulnerable. 

The government of the state currently owes him 8-month salary arrears.  

Mrs Adeola now waits for donation to feed

Bolaji Adeola Badamosi, is now blind after being denied of her salary arrears, entitlement and monthly pension. Photo Credit: Samad Uthman/ The ICIR

“I am among the contributory pension fund beneficiaries. We keep money without receiving anything. We have not been paid for the last 4 years. As you can see I am now blind. All the drugs I used are imported when I was in service”.  

These are the exact statements from Bolaji Adeola Badamosi while speaking with this reporter in her residence at Shakashaka area of Ejigbo, Ejigbo local government area of Osun state. 

Mrs Bolaji Adeola a level 14 teacher who retired from the classroom in 2016, is hit by chronic Glaucoma which took over her sight after she is no more financially buoyant to get drugs to keep up. 

She was paid half salary from January to August 2016. According to her, “I was to be paid #106,000 monthly but it was razed down to half. Until August 2020, I have not been paid anything”.

While recounting her survival during the lockdown, she recalled how “people came in to donate foods to me” when she was at the brink of survival.

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“People from my church and other groups I belong to will just enter to give me beans, corn, ripe mango during its season, that’s how we did it during the time” she added. 

Service on the wheelchair for years, yet,  no entitlement

The experience is also the same with Adeshakin Ajike Olabisi. She had since November 26, 1991, had a ghastly motor accident which took her legs off the road. 

Since then, till July 31st 2016 when she left teaching at the elementary primary school, Ilare in Ile-Ife, Ife-central local government, Ajike pushed herself on the wheelchair to classes and ‘never missed’ a day from school. This does not brush the fact that she is the ‘father and mother’ of her children. 

While Ajike tried to maintain a standard for her children’s academic, it has always been daunting and tough for her to pay her children school fees since the start of modulated salary structure in the state, pay for her check-up in the hospital, maintain herself and payback loans she took from banks and individuals.  

“When my children wanted to go to school, I nearly wept, I went from one hand to the other. Even I am on debt now, the debt I used to pay the school fees of my children”

“ It has affected many things. I used to go to the hospital for a check-up. And I will pay. They will tell me to buy many things. Even this wheelchair is costly. There’s one slipper I use to wear that will not make my leg swollen.  Now that I have not been paid, I am unable to buy all those things”

“Aside from pension and gratuity, the Osun state government owes me 30-month arrears of half salary”

The story of Johnson and his complicated urinary system

Ayodeji Johnson retired as a school principal at St Peter’s Middle school. Photo Credit: Samad Uthman/ The ICIR

Ayodeji Johnson retired as a school principal at St Peter’s Middle school, Olode, Ife, Ife south local government in 2018. His wrestles with various health issues started in 2019 after surviving a  ghastly motor accident. 

In the end, Johnson can not sit without support, even on the chair. He cannot walk without the help of a crutch and he can not urinate without urinary catheters. It has been difficult for him to survive because he attends clinics regularly where he buys drugs. 

According to Johnson, the Osun state government currently owes him about 2million naira, accrual for 30 months half salary after he confirmed to this reporter that he has not been paid a dime since he exited the service. 

“What bothers me most is the non-payment of our gratuity and pension in which I can rely on for survival” Johnson lamented with dismay. 

Johnson disclosed that he has spent close to 1.8million naira on his ill health while her wife’s business has suffered the hit. 

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“The non-payment of pension and gratuity has affected the family generally.  The children that are in school, I can not meet their financial obligation again. Those that have finished university, no employment. Nothing to feed them. My wife’s business is now at a standstill. Because she has to go here and there to get things for me for my survival”

The tales of Ajanaku and oke of Ilesa

The stories of Ajanaku Omolayo and Donald Olutayo Oke in Ilesa are pathetic and saddening as the duo lost the battle to the death after protracted illnesses.  The duo were pensioners and left without receiving any of their arrears and entitlements from the Osun state government after several futile attempts.  

While Ajanaku died of a stroke, Olutayo was confirmed by family and friends to be grounded for years and later died of protracted diabetes.

While at the late Ajanaku’s house, his wife- Ajanaku Victoria Iretiola, dressed in all-white with a head-tie signifying a compulsory tradition of 90-day-sit-at-home by Yoruba wives after the death of their husband, explained how her husband has been sick some months before his retirement.

Ajanaku Victoria Iretiola sitting beside the grave of his late husband, Ajanaku Omolayo. photo credit: Samad Uthman/ The ICIR

“We took him to Wesley, We spent up to 1 million naira. The stroke started before his death. It was last year we took him to the hospital. Since then, I have been the only one taking care of the three children”

A friend close to the late Ajanaku told The ICIR that the late friend has been nursing the illness since the early days of September 2015. 

“He was taken to Wesley Guild hospital when it (the sickness) bounced back. All these were during the time of half salary. So, he was unable to take care of himself as expected. He was promoted 5 years before his retirement without remuneration for it”, a friend, who is also among the unpaid pensioners told The ICIR.

The Widow, Ajanaku’s wife, still has a loan to refund at Guaranty Trust Bank at the moment of filing this report. 

In the case of the late Oke, he died barely 24-hours after the demise of his wife- Bolanle Olayinka Oke- who worked as a teacher in one of the public schools in Ilesa and had been taking full responsibility of his care and children since his retirement in 2016. 

The over-thought of survival by the late Oke after the demise of his wife, according to friends who are also pensioners, quickened the mysterious death of the retired late teacher.

The leadership of Ilesa Zone of CPS pensioners confirmed to the ICIR that the late Oke has not received a dime out of his “half-salary” arrears, gratuity and monthly pension allowance till his death 

The ICIR understands that the late Oke was a sexagenarian, he was buried together with his late wife the same day on the 23rd of July 2020 in their Ilesa home. 

The ICIR was unable to speak with their children as they had all fled away from the house due to the mysteriousness of their parent’s death.  

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How Osun failed woefully in the remittance of its share of the CPS

As contained in Osun State Contributory Pension Law 2008 section 14 subsection 14-1, the contribution for any employee to which this law applies shall be made in the following circumstances relating to his monthly emolument: a minimum of 7.5% by the employer (state government) and a minimum of 7.5% by the employee.

The ICIR queried the level of compliance with the CPS by the Osun state in the first and second quarter reports published by  Pension Commission(PENCOM) on June 7 and September 4, 2019, respectively.

The separate reports revealed that Osun state government has been remitting pension contributions inconsistently, resulting in a backlog of pension contributions. 

 The ICIR’s check on the second-quarter report also revealed that 24 states including Cross River, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, Taraba, Bauchi, Borno, Adamawa, Ogun, Niger, Imo, Sokoto, Kogi, Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Oyo, Katsina, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Kwara, Plateau and Taraba have not been remitting Pension contributions to the PFAs.

Only Lagos, Edo, Kaduna and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had an up-to-date remittance in the report released in August.

The Pencom report also showed that only four out of the remaining 12 states that are remitting pension contributions, had been remitting the pension of their workers ‘regularly’.

So, why has Osun failed in CPS remittance? 

An analysis by SB Morgen on the BudgIT report on the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) has shown that for every ₦100 shared to the Osun State government as revenue allocation from the federation account, ₦91 is deducted to service the debt.

SB Morgen documented that in the BudgiT report, out of the ₦6.44 billion Osun received as revenue from FAAC in January through March, ₦5.87 billion of the amount went to servicing its debt. 

Associating with The ICIR’s investigation, the leading geopolitical intelligence platform also said that the development is coming to fore even as the state has been grappling with years of backlogs of unpaid salaries (and pension) owing to the failure of the government to judiciously harness the revenue potential of huge human and capital resources. 

“The state may even be on the brink of seeking life support, analysts have said. Osun also has the highest deduction done ever on any of the 36 states as a percentage of federal allocations, showing how terrible the fiscal situation of the state is at present” SB Morgen wrote. 

A 91 per cent federal allocation deducted in servicing the states debt profile would leave the state with only about 9 per cent of the revenue to be used as expenditure on health, education and other financial obligations (including payment of modulated salary arrears, gratuity, pensions)  for its over 4.6 million people, according to BusinessDay estimate

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The ICIR checked through the Debt Management Office online archive and it understands that as at 31st March 2020, Osun state’s domestic debt stands at N137,309,082,945.63. Its multilateral debt, as at 31st of December 2019 stands at $83,246,086.29 while her bilateral debt is $12,245,989.00. All together, Osun’s total external debt is $95,492,075.29 which is N36,916,281,386.36, calculated based on the prevailing dollar to naira rate. All together, Osun is in N174.2 billion naira debt. 

With the above, a  Nairametric report showed that Osun State has a debt to revenue ratio of 781.71%, while it had net revenue of N22.84 billion and had gone beyond the limit set by the Debt Management Office (DMO) by 731.71%. 

This projects the heavy debt and its servicing Osun is drowning in at the expense of her sustainability and administration.

Infrastructure over worker’s entitlement   

Rauf Aregbesola, the former Governor of Osun State and the present minister of Interior. photo credit: NewsWire

On July 15th, during the preliminary days of this investigation, The ICIR sought the comment of Semiu Okanlawon, the erstwhile spokesperson of Aregbesola, on the non-payment of salary, unpaid arrears and many other entitlements of workers and pensioners in the state before leaving the office.

Semiu directed this reporter to seek the comment of the present administration as the government is continuous. 

A month after, this reporter placed another call on Semiu’s phone for responses on some unanswered questions by the present government of Osun state. 

For three weeks, Semiu continued to give this reporter different schedules of when he would be free to speak. He failed to do so many times. 

However, on Friday, August 21, Semiu asked The ICIR reporter to send him the questions on Whatsapp. The reporter did and till  26th of August when Semiu responded that “ How do you want to place Aregbesola’s comment in your story? There was a handover note. And so, all inquiries should be directed to any officer assigned to that in the state”. 

“Aregbesola stopped being Governor of Osun since 2018 November. Whatever workers and pensioners are saying now, I am sure there are officials of the present administration saddled with the task of giving accurate explanations” Semiu said in an SMS sent to The ICIR

However, The ICIR browsed through many media documentations where Aregbesola has responded to questions of him placing infrastructure of the state over worker’s entitlements. 

While responding to the senate during the ministerial screening, Aregbesola said “he gave huge investment in the infrastructure” as an excuse for the poor treatment of Osun workers.

In the same screening, while responding to a question from Bashir Gasau (PDP-Zamfara) on why he paid modulated salaries during his tenure, Mr Aregbesola said “this was because we invested heavily in infrastructure.”

He added that the state “under his leadership fell victim of economic recession in 2014, but was able to manage the situation with an initial payment of half salaries depending on grade levels”

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However, an investigation published and funded by The ICIR in 2015 revealed that the construction of  Osogbo to Ila –Odo road for which a sum N17.5 billion was borrowed from the Bank of Infrastructure; a market project at Dagbolu, a suburb of Osogbo, for which N6 billion has been expended and the proposed MKO Abiola airport at Ido-Osun, and rehabilitation of Gbongon Sekona Akoda road are shrouded in thick bush and abandonment. 

As of August 2020, the above-listed multi-billion naira projects were not yet completed and are some out of many uncompleted projects littered across the state initiated by Rauf Aregbesola. 

Aregbeshola’s shady accountability

The ICIR scoured through online media reports and understands that Rauf Aregbesola, during the period of economic hardship in the state, President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government extended several bailout funds to the state. 

With this, “Ogbeni” still defaulted in payment of salaries, pension allowances, gratuity, modulated salary arrears, remittance of CPS, amongst others.  

In 2015, Osun State got N34.9 billion out of N338 billion disbursed to states owing workers and pensioners as a relief for payment of salaries and owed arrears by President Buhari. 

In November 2016, the Osun government received N11.74 billion as refunds from the Paris Club.

In 2017, Osun State received N6.3 billion as the second tranche of Paris Club refund in July following President Buhari’s approval of the release of more funds from the London-Paris Club refund to state governors across the country. 

Many protests, many letters, situation remain the same

After their exit from the Osun State civil service in 2015, the pensioners have countlessly staged protests with a barrage of letters addressed to the governor, royal fathers in the state, current and immediate past state house of assembly speakers, amongst others.

On August 8th 2018, in a letter addressed to the former speaker of the state house of assembly, Najeem Salam, the pensioners appealed for the payment of 2015, 2016 and 2017 entitlements.

In a four pages letter addressed to the governor, Gboyega Oyetola the pensioners made a “passionate appeal and demand of statutory entitlements of pensions and gratuity to retired teachers and civil servants of Osun state spanning years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019”

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On August 4th 2020, the joint forum of contributory pensioners in the state wrote another communique to Festus Olowogboyega Oyebade, the state’s head of service where they rejected a proposal by the government to pay 25 per cent of their Retirement Savings Account (RSA). The pensioners also requested for unconditional payment of their modulated salary arrears for Al-Amin30 months. Without further delay, provision for a substantial amount of 2 billion naira bond certificate monthly, amongst other requests.  

The coming of Oyetola and the intervention

When Gboyega Oyetola became the governor in 2018, the retirees continued with their agitation.

In July 2019, Oyetola presented bond certificates worth over N1.01 billion to retirees under the Contributory Pension Scheme. The governor explained that 84 of them were retired primary school teachers, while 105 others were former local government workers.

He added that the bond certificates distributed to the pensioners were worth N1.01 billion and promised “to always give priority to the welfare of the senior citizens in the state.”

The bond certificates allow the retirees to collect money from designated banks.

On February 5, 2020, the media reported that Oyetola approved the release of the sum of N500 million for the payment of entitlement to retired workers enrolled under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) of which names of the beneficiary retirees were picked on merit.

On 14th of February, 2020, Oyetola was also reported to have presented a total sum of N1.2 billion naira bonds to all categories of retirees in the State. The governor was quoted to have certificates for the payment of terminal benefits of some retired workers under the Contributory Pension Scheme. 

On July 31, 2020, Oyetola, approved the sum of N500 million again for payments of entitlements to retirees on Contributory Pensions Scheme in the State. 

On October 6, Oyetola approved the release of Five Hundred and Eight Million Naira of the to pay the pensions of retired civil servants while an additional sum of One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira was approved to pay retirees under the contributory pensions scheme based on merit.

On November 3, Oyetola also approved the release of Five Hundred and Eight Million Naira to pay the pensions of retired civil servants while an additional sum of One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira was approved to pay retirees under the contributory pensions scheme based on merit and Five Hundred and Forty-Nine Million, Two hundred and Seventy-Six Thousand for Primary School Teachers and Local Government Retirees. He added that additional Fifty Million Naira was approved for the part payment of the gratuities of retired officers under the old pensions scheme.

However, all these efforts appear inadequate as many pensioners in the state told The ICIR that they have not smelt the government’s ‘hand’ in their bank account since they have left service. 

We do not have what it takes in terms of resources to clear such debts- Oyetola

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Gboyega Oyetola, the governor of Osun state has said through his spokesperson, Ismail Omipidan that the state has no resources to clear the humongous amount of salary arrears and backlogs owed by the state to the pensioners.

He also noted that the Oyetola’s administration has been able to sustain “regular and prompt payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities, including doing some capital projects through creative and prudent management of resources by our principal”.

 The ICIR reminded Omipidan of the key position held by Oyetola during the Aregbesola’s government, to which he responded: “the buck stops at the desk of the governor.” Omipidan also denied that over 4000 pensioners have not been paid since 2016.

“It is not true. For State, we have paid up to March 2017, while for LG, we have cleared 2015 and we have paid up to March 2016 as well. Since we came in about two years a.go, we have been paying pensions and gratuity regularly, including contributory pension.

But he could not explain how the state chooses who to be paid as funds released so far by this administration read ‘based on merit’. 

We have a committee on the pension matter – NLC

Jacob Adekomi, the Osun State Chairman of National Labour Congress (NLC) told The ICIR  in a phone interview that the Oyetola government has set up a 7-man committee two months ago to look into possible ways the backlogs can be paid. 

The committee includes the Head of the service, the permanent secretary finance, the commissioner for Finance, myself, The National Union of Teachers(NUT) chairman, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) chairman, and the permanent secretary pension bureau.  

He said the state government has ordered an automated payment of 200million per month to the Contributory Pension Scheme beneficiaries. 

Last month, 200million was released, this month again, we are expecting. The governor has given the commissioner for finance a blanket order that every month, without seeking approval, 200 million naira should be released.”

He said the government has been paying between 100 million and 150 million in the Pension Scheme since July last year, but The ICIR could not confirm that claim.

PFAs failed to avail The ICIR with Osun pension information

Based on the provision of Section 2(3) and (4) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 which require all “information relating to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds of the institution to be widely disseminated and made readily available…”, The ICIR sent an email on the 20th of August to three of the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) administering the fund of the pensioners in Osun state, inquiring about their organisation’s effort and role in the unpaid pension allowances. 

Pal Pension, First guaranty Pension LTD and OAK pensions were all contacted.

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In her response five days later, Al-Amin Shekoni, Company Secretary/Legal Adviser of  OAK Pensions Limited told The ICIR that the request for information cannot be treated at the moment. 

“Please be informed that your request cannot be acceded to at this point.  Our PFA like all other PFAs are strategizing towards the impending Transfer Window Opening later this year and until this phase passes, whatever information passed now cannot be reliable. It is in view of that and more we may not be able to accede to your request as earlier stated,” the legal adviser had written in a response email sent to The ICIR.

 Mahmud Sulaimon, North Central Regional Manager of Pal Pension told this reporter to reach out to the Communication and Strategy department in Pencom to obtain any information regarding Osun state pension administration.

First Guaranty in an email told The ICIR that the organisation “would need to look into the possibility of this and revert” on the 24th of August. Till date, First Guaranty is yet to revert.    

 

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