Imo pays retirees N9.3b out of N21b pension arrears
The governor revealed that the state government has only set aside N9.3 billion to clear the arrears and start on a clean slate.Some of the retirees were pushing for 100 per cent payment for ex-workers on grade levels 01 to 06 and 40 per cent for levels 07 to 17 but the governor insisted on 40 per cent across board.
He insisted that 40 per cent is what the state government could offer saying about 95 per cent of the retired workers have signified their intention to accept the offer.
Okorocha said the state government has a burden of N1.4 billion from N320 million monthly allocation.
He hinted that Imo pays the highest pension in the country when states like Kano, with 44 Local Councils, pays N720 million monthly, Lagos pays N350 million and Kaduna paying N310 million, wondering why Imo’s case is that high when the monthly allocation from the Federal Government hovers between N3billion and N2.6 billion, while the pension burden stands at N1.4 billion monthly.
‘’We tried to ask why the monthly pensions is too high and discovered that on creation of Abia from the old Imo State, some workers of Imo origin returned and retired after serving 35 years, while there were cases of boasted and existence of ghost pensioners,” he explained.
The governor said the decision to offset pension arrears was for the good of the citizens as well as the state.“If you are owed N10 million and you are paid N4 million, the government has tried. We should remember that there is economic recession. Some states owe between three and four years. What the government has done is for the good of the pensioners’’, he stated.
He noted that his administration had been offering free education, constructed tunnels, roads, 27 General Hospitals and other infrastructural facilities, which gulped finances resources.
Few days ago, the retirees under the aegis, Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), led by their state chairman, Gideon Ezeji protested and grounded the streets of Owerri, rejecting the offer to cut their monthly pensions.