DELTA State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan disclosed on Thursday that the State Government pays out the sum of N1.2 billion monthly as pension to retired civil servants in the state and has contributed over N18 billion since 2007 when it started implementing the contributory pension scheme.
Governor Uduaghan, who made the disclosure in a meeting with retirees and other stakeholders in Asaba, cautioned against bringing politics into pension matters, stating that nobody or association could blackmail his administration to abandon the interests of pensioners in the state.
Reiterating the commitment of his administration to the welfare of retirees, Dr. Uduaghan said that the State Government besides its workers salaries pays out the sum of N1.2 billion monthly as pensions, an amount he noted was more than the wage bill of some state governments.
“Every month N1.2 billion is given for pension alone, I am not talking of workers salary. I am talking of what we put in for pension. That is the monthly wage bill of many states in this country,” he said.
According to him, the state government has since the inception of the contributory pension scheme made a counterpart contribution of over N18 billion, with workers contributing over N13 billion to the fund.
“The state government has contributed over N18 billion to the contributory pension scheme with workers contributing N13.7 billion, the money is with the PFAs (Pension Fund Administrators),” he said.
Governor Uduaghan took a swipe at some group of persons who protested under the aegis of Contributory Retirees of Delta State which accused his administration of insensitivity to their plight, describing their action as mischievous and “very unfair.”
“It is very very unfair to insinuate that I have over N16 billion contributory pension money with me… we have to decide whether to continue with the contributory pension scheme or go back to the old pension scheme because of the challenges which we are all aware of.
“It is regrettable that somebody is using them to misinform the public, they are politicizing pension issues and it is unfortunate,” he said.
The Governor urged operators of PFAs to ensure that they meet with expectations of workers and pensioners with regard to the contributions assuring that, his administration will never toy with the interest of pensioners and workers in the state.
Uduaghan, who disclosed that his parents were pensioners before their demise, observed that issues of pensioners were very dear to his heart and used the occasion to state that it has been agreed that resolutions on wages by the Federal Government were not binding on the states if the states were not part of the negotiations.
“If the Federal Government wants states to implement the resolutions on wages, it should involve the states in the negotiations otherwise, their circulars would not be binding on the state but, rather, it will provide windows for the states to negotiate with their own workers,” the Governor said.
Chairman, Delta State Chapter of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Ogbueshi Robert Chukwuyem thanked Governor Uduaghan for ensuring prompt payment of pensions and also implementing circulars from the Federal Government on increase in pensions.
He apologized for the actions of the Contributory Retirees Association, attributing their action to misinformation and disclosed that plans were on to integrate members of the association into the NUP as an umbrella body of all pensioners in Nigeria.