By Jennifer John
Imo State Government said it has paid verified pensioners in the state up to June 2020
This disclosure was made by the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma during a meeting he held with the leadership of organized labour and union of pensioners at the Sam Mbakwe Exco Chamber of Imo State Government House.
He once more attributed the delay in the payment of pensioners to the verification processes occasioned by manifest fraudulent activities in the state civil service and pension system.
The Governor revealed that a cartel of eight persons who fraudulently collects pension to the tune of N330 million naira yearly has been busted. He said other people who connive with Permanent Secretaries and payroll officers to collect pension far beyond their statutory pension and those who collect pension and also collect salaries as serving civil servants were also discovered at various levels of the state civil and public service while some government workers indiscriminately promoted themselves and are eating fat salaries that were not due for them.
The governor restated government commitment to pay workers salaries and pension, as and when due, positing that payment of salaries or pension should never be brandied by any government as an achievement, as according to him, salaries and pensions respectively are inalienable right of serving and retired civil/public servants.
He rated the verified and now automated pension system of the state at 80 percent success/accuracy while acknowledging the fact that there could be some mix-up and few omissions and thereby encouraged any genuine pensioner who fails to get his or her payment to report to the government as their case will be looked into and if found to be genuine will immediately be cued into the automated system for immediate payment.
He also informed that Primary and Secondary school teachers have been paid up to June and assured that no genuine and approved entitlement of workers and pensioners will not be paid by the government led by him.
Governor Uzodimma disclosed that with the verification and discovery of fraud, the pension bill of the state has been reduced from over N1.4 billion to about N780 million monthly, even as he promised that the verification will be a continuous process until the entire automation system is perfected.
Earlier in their separate speeches, the Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Imo State, Austin Chilakpu and that of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, appreciated the governor for his labour friendly disposition that has manifested in the areas of; reinstating 500 workers of Adapalm that were laid off by past administration, clearing of three months arrears of salaries owed judicial workers since 2017, helped labour to clear up to 50 percent of check-off dues owed by different unions at the national level, among others.
They restated the dissociation of NLC and NUP from the recent protests by some pensioners in the state as according to them, the union leaders were aware of reasons for the delay and restated the support of the organized labour and pensioners to the government while pleadin with the governor to do something about the current staggering payment of workers in the state.