By Sunday John
Lafia, Dec. 30, 2020 Chairmen of the 13 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nasarawa State, have commenced the forensic verification of pensioners in the state.
Alhaji Aminu Maifata, Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Nasarawa State Chapter, disclosed this to newsmen on Wednesday in Lafia.
Maifata, who is also the Chairman, Lafia LGA, said the verification had become necessary to address some anomalies in the pension administration.
“As at June 2019, when the LGAs got financial autonomy, we met an outrageous pension bill, and so we decided to take a closer look.
“We then discovered that a staff, who before retirement was earning N10,000, is now collecting N25,000 as pension,” he said.
The ALGON chairman said that some of the pensioners who retired with the old salary structure, were surprisingly receiving pensions based on new salary structure.
Reacting to the allegations by the local government pensioners that the chairmen did not care about paying their pension, Maifata described the allegation as untrue.
According to him, the local government administration law in the state stipulates that 15 per cent of the Statutory Revenue Allocation (SRA), to each LGA, be deducted and transferred to the state’s Pension Bureau, which is saddled with the responsibility of paying pension.
He said that no LGA in the state had reneged on payment of the 15 per cent of its SRA as contained in the law.
The ALGON chairman said that when the bureau complained that the 15 per cent was no longer enough to pay pension fully, the governor intervened by convening a stakeholders’ meeting towards addressing the situation.
Maifata said that Gov. Abdullahi Sule, had however, promised to send a bill to the state assembly for the upward review of the percentage.
He said that the pensioners had also during the meeting suggested that the 15 per cent of the SRA for two months, could be combined to pay for one month pension, which the chairmen obliged.
He said Sule had urged them to fashion out ways to augment their pension considering that any percentage of the SRA would not be sufficient with the current economic realities.
He added that the chairmen had been magnanimous to augment the pension several times, to the tune of between N200million to N300million.
He, however, alleged that the recent outcry by the pensioners was to divert attention from the forensic verification, aimed at bringing sanity to the pension administration in the state.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Nasarawa State Council, in a statement signed by its Chairman, Musa Obakpa, accused the chairmen of deliberate ploy to deprive them of their statutory pension.
The union alleged that local government councils in the state never considered the issue of payment of pension to their retirees as a matter of necessity.
The union threatened to mobilise its members to occupy the 13 LGA secretariats to know the reasons for the non-payment of their monthly pension.
“This we shall diligently do until our demands are met before the New Year,” the union said in the statement.