Hundreds of local government pensioners in Edo state on Tuesday took to the streets of Benin City, to protest non-payment of over six months arrears of pension owed them by the state government.
The protesters were apparently peeved by a statement credited to Mr. Kassim Afegbua, the Special Adviser to Governor Adams Oshiomhole on Media, who allegedly said that “Edo State Government has no part to play in funding of pensioners that receive their pensions through the state Local Government Staff Pension Board.”
The Secretary, Local Government Pensioners Association, Edo State chapter, Mr. Timothy Uwagboe, who addressed journalists at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat, Benin, said Afegbua’s claim demonstrates his ignorance of the law that established State Local Government Staff Pension Board in each of the 36 states of the federation as contained in Decree No. 20 of 1985.
Uwagboe who expressed surprise over the manner the statement by Afegbua was conveyed, accused him of being one of those misleading the Governor Oshiomhole.
He explained that Section 210 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, specifically mandated state governments to take charge in the state, while Section 173 of the same Constitution relates to Federal Government.
“When was the law that establish State Local Government Staff Pension Boards repealed, amended or expunged from the law of the federal? Who controls the Local Government Councils and collects their allocation from the federation account monthly?”, Uwagboe queried.
The Pensioners’ Scribe noted that the Executive Council of Edo State controls every parastatal including the state Local Government Staff Pension Board as well as constituting any board of enquiry into the affairs of each local government council when the need arose, adding “we therefore need to state as follows: that the law establishing the Pension Board, provides that the federal, state and local government should jointly fund the Local Government Staff Pension Board.
“That on the 1st day of March 2011, the Edo State House of Assembly passed three resolutions mandating the executive arm the government to meet and collect from the federal government its share of fund as provided by the law, that the state government should pay the arrears of its share of the fund from when the governor came to office and to urgently harmonize the older pensioners so as to meet the realities of the present day economic situations,” Uwagboe stated.
But reacting to the statement of the protesters, Afegbua who reiterated his earlier statement that the state government is not responsible for the payment of local government staff, said the Local Government Service Commission was supposed to settle the pensions of local government workers who have retired through the Local Government Staff Pension Board, adding however that the state government can only help them harmonize their old pension and gratuity whenever they are having difficulties, and not that it is the responsibility of the state government.
Credit : PM News