Out of thousands of pensioners who retired from the State and Local Government for over ten years now, the Niger State government has said it can settle only 178 retirees from state civil service after evidence of being a former employee and retired from state service.
This is coming against the backdrop of a series of protests by the pensioners who have been calling on Governor Abubarkar Sani Bello-led administration to release their entitlements before vacating office.
Also, many retirees died without getting their benefits and their next of kin again unable to lay hands on the relevant documents being demanded may have to forfeit their entitlements if the position of the state government on the subject matter is anything to go by.
Addressing journalists yesterday (Thursday) on the controversies and misconceptions, the Director-General (DG), Niger State Pensions Board, Alhaji Saidu Namaska said the state government has released N1 billion to settle in full the benefits of only 178 pensioners.
Payments, he however insists will be on, a first-come-first-served basis and each of the beneficiaries must be able to produce valid evidence of being a former employee of the state government such as a first employment letter and as well letter of retirement/disengagement.
Namaska who refused to give details of how many pensioners are due for settlement in the state and across the 25 Local Government Areas however said, “It is not that we don’t have detailed records of those due for retirement benefits, but we want to compare notes”.
Meanwhile, it was mixed reactions at the Pensions Board office, Minna as some retirees lament the way and manner the government is handling issues about their due entitlements, while others on the other hand are appreciating God for scaling through the hurdles.
One of the retirees, Mrs Rachael Adeyanju said she retired as a teacher from, Chanchaga Local Government Area in 2013 but has not been given her retirement benefit despite a series of promises by the relevant authorities.
A widow and mother of 3, Adeyanju said she treks for about an hour from her house to the pension board any time she hears that they were going to be paid, ‘but as you can see, today we are here and we are not part of those to be settled, therefore I am pleading that God should touch their hearts so that they will settle us.
The retired teacher who said she is aware that many of her colleagues have died and is not sure of traces for next of kin of breadwinners to get entitlements wants the two tiers of government to end the difficulties pensioners go through by making it easy for them to get rightful entitlements and other benefits without necessarily going, ‘through hell’.
Adeyanju who said she has been surviving by the mercy of God, a haven to cater for three children after the death of her husband told our correspondent how she got employed in 1978 and that she has taught in many schools in Chanchaga Local Government.
Our correspondent however reports that, while Adeyanju is lamenting abandonment by her former employers, Ahmed Shehu Mohammed, who retired from the state civil service in 2012 said he is grateful to God that he has everything favouring him as far as the pension brouhaha is concerned.
Mohammed who said he is also not happy with the way retirees were being treated after meritorious service by the state and Local Government said, “I am grateful to God that my name appeared on the list of 178 to be settled. I retired from the state civil service in 2012”.