A group under the aegis of Ekiti Progressive Elite(EPE), has clarified that the alternative payment proposal indicated by former governor Kayode Fayemi to defray N15.9 billion gratuity and pension arrears, was designed to rescue the retirees from undue pains and sufferings.
Contrary to how it was being invidiously painted that coopting a private body to provide credit facility for payment was a clandestine move by Fayemi’s government to dupe the pensioners, the group insisted that it was an ingenious and well thought-out way of ensuring payment during their lifetimes.
The former Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Ekiti chapter, Mr. Dapo Omotoso , had in an interview allegedly granted Sahara reporters claimed that sourcing private facility to pay the hanging gratuity and pension could have deprived each pensioner 15% of their entitlements.
But the group, through its Convener and National Coordinator, Dr. Ayodele Olasunkanmi Ahmed, said: “Money has value. Of what use is money owed without any indication of when it will be paid and a bird in hand which gives immediate value. N5m gratuity when the promissory bond was offered to the pensioners in 2019 is now worth less than N2. 5m today.
“This is a common instrument in public finance management and it’s a win-win for both sides.” Those working with Omoyele Sowore who is using Sahara Reporters to settle unfathomable scores with Fayemi who came to his rescue when in SSS detention should know that truth is constant, social media propaganda cannot obliterate it.
“Fayemi sought ingeneous ways to resolve intractable problems of financial management. The pensioners preferred the old style of payment. And yet they turn around to cry that their pension has piled up unpaid. Where will the funds come from?
“Although many of the pensioners later appealed to Fayemi to revive the scheme claiming they were misled by some politicians who thought not solving the problem then will help their electoral fortunes, it was too late for the Governor to do anything about it”.
Ahmed debunked the claim, saying it was clear demonstration of misconception and feeding public with lies over a proposal that was well-intended to salvage the senior citizens from a very precarious and pitiable situation.
The group posited that the private financial instrument proposal, as announced by the then government, was to correct the lopsidedness and delay in payment of N13.5bn unpaid gratuities and N2.7bn outstanding pensions, that was dragging for too long.
Ahmed , who shed light on how the proposal was mooted, said the state Executive council, chaired by Fayemi, resorted to such a deft and apposite move upon conviction that every retiree should get their wage during their lifetime and without unnecessary impediment as being witnessed then.
The group’ leader added that besides the fact that the proposal was voluntary for pensioners, he said it was a product of approval granted a memorandum presented by the former Special Adviser, Investments and Trade, Akin Oyebode, by the council.
Ahmed said the proposal was neither imposed on any pensioner, nor designed as a loan or contrived to dupe anyone, as being mischievously painted by Saharareporters.
Ahmed said: “After receiving the memorandum from the former Special Adviser, the State Executive Council debated and considered the alternative credit facility proposal dispassionately and realised that it was plausible because despite increasing the monthly vote from N10m to N100m to pay gratuity and pension arrears, the arrangement was still very slow and lopsided.
“The former administration was with an unflagging belief that all retirees deserve to receive their entitlements when alive and continuing with the N100m payment monthly, may deprive many of them of getting what belong to them when alive.
“Flowing from this, there was a desperate need to explore other viable options to reduce the waiting time for the retirees and pay up as much as 50 per cent of the outstanding on or before the end of this administration in 2022.
“It saddens one’s heart to see a proposal meant to rescue a group of senior citizens from a very harrowing situation being misconceived as an attempt to dupe or rob them of certain percentage of their entitlements. We want to place on record that this was not so.
“Let it be said expressly that Governor Fayemi’s father died as a pensioner. He knew the importance of being a retiree and couldn’t have taken any step to punish the senior citizens, who gave their productive lives serving Ekiti, and which they did selflessly.
“It sounded unfathomable that people could be raising all manners of accusations against Fayemi, who raised the monthly vote for payment of gratuity and pension from an abysmal and paltry N10m to N100m, and also designed alternative private payment, just to help the retirees while the preceding Ayodele Fayose’s government was being praised despite showing little concern about their plights.
“Discerning Nigerians should look at the situations from a broader spectrum, they will realise that those making the accusations were either doing so for politics or out of hatred for the former governor”, Ahmed stated.