Ekiti State Government has restated its commitment to ameliorating the plight of pensioners in the state, saying it will soon come up with creative ways to clear unpaid gratuities that had accumulated over the years.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who disclosed this during a meeting with the executive members of the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, at the weekend, decried the hardship pensioners were passing through as a result of non-payment of their gratuity and irregular payment of pension.
The pensioners, led by the state chairman of the union, Elder Ayo Kumapayi, paid the governor a visit to congratulate him on the recent Court of Appeal victory and to thank him for the regular payment of their pensions monthly since October 2018.
The governor said his administration had put a temporary measure on ground through a 1000 per cent increase in the fund meant for gratuity payment monthly, from N10 million to N100 million monthly in order to capture more pensioners in the process, adding that he would ensure that he continued to meet government obligations to pensioners.
Dr Fayemi said that the welfare of pensioners had always remained a top priority of his administration, stressing that the retirees deserved timely payment of their entitlements for the selfless services they had rendered to the state and the nation at large.
According to him, “The three areas that you highlighted, we would take a further look if the six per cent and 15 per cent were stopped in February 2015 soon after we left, we would take a further look at it.
“I wish we can reinstate that within the limited resources available to government. I will discuss with the Head of Service and we see precisely what the situation is and we will try and meet you on your request as far as that one is concerned.
“On the 100 million naira increase in the gratuity fund, when I came to you during campaign, we were talking about something even broader than that, we were talking about a bond that will be organised in a manner that we can pay off the outstanding obligation the state has, then we would have to find ways to repay the bond.
“We are looking at other creative ways. What we are doing right now is mainly a stop gap measure to ensure that the number of people who can access gratuity increases because how many retirees can 10 million naira cater for even if it is N2 million gratuity that everyone is entitled to, then barely four people would benefit.”
Governor Fayemi also restated the resolve of his administration to establish recreational facilities for the elderly where the issue of their health would be taken care of by the state through Health Insurance Scheme that will soon commence.
He said: “I am particularly pleased that you are taking a broader look at support mechanism for your members, a wellness centre is a very well thought idea and I recalled that we’ve discussed at some point, the possibility of a facility, a home, of course, we are not used to White man attitude of going to a home, we want to take care of our elderly in our own way as much as possible. Facilities that can be a community for elderly pensioners used for recreational purposes.
“So your wellness centre definitely is something that can fit into that idea of a recreational facility for pensioners and elderly in Ekiti State.
“I find the idea of your type of early child’s scheme for pensioners who are obviously over 60 years, I think it’s a great idea and we have to explore that.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Ekiti State branch, Chief Ayo Kumapayi, said the purpose of the visit was to felicitate with the governor on his victory at the Appeal Court as well as appreciate him for the various supports Ekiti pensioners had received from his administration so far.
Kumapayi used the opportunity to commend the present government for prompt payment of pension allowances and approval of immediate increase in the monthly gratuity fund from 10 million naira to 100 million naira monthly, which has allowed for more retirees to be catered for every month.
He appealed to government to support the pensioners by establishing a wellness centre for elderly retirees to enable them live long after retirement.