By Patrick Ochoga, Benin City –
Edo State governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has said that the state government has paid off N6billion out of the N10 billion pension arrears that accumulated between 1996 and 2000.
Obaseki, who met with pensioners in the state yesterday to commemorate the 16th Annual National Pensioners’ Day at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Secretariat, Benin City, said the N3.9billion arrears backlog would be cleared before December 2018.
He said that the state government has been clearing the arrears accumulated between 1996 and 2000 in batches, adding, “For state pensioners, we set aside N100 million monthly to address the balance of about N3.9 billion. We will increase this amount as the state revenue profile increases.”
He explained that when his administration came on board, local government councils were unable to pay pensions, hence the state put up measures to enable them generate revenue, which, he said, is gradually yielding positive results.
“We didn’t want to have challenges in the payment of pension anymore. So, we moved from the old system to the contributory pension scheme. You have a governor who understands the pension problem and the only way to resolve this problem is for us to work together,” he said.
On Paris Club refunds, the governor said the state and local government councils got the fund, which was used to pay salaries and pension arrears.
The state chairman of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Mr Pullen Noruwa, commended the governor for attending the event and setting up a committee to address pension matters in the state.
Noruwa, however, appealed to the governor to increase the N100 million set aside for the payment of pension arrears on monthly basis to expedite action on the settlement of outstanding arrears.