Pensioners in Osun State hit the streets of Osogbo, the state capital again on Tuesday to stage a fresh protest against the non-payment of their pensions and gratuities.
The retirees said the state government was owing them 18 months pensions because of the modulated payment policy since 2015, adding that many of them who retire since 2011 had not been paid their gratuities.
Hundreds of retirees gathered at Ayetoro area of the town as early as 7am and they marched towards the popular Olaiya Junction singing and praying to God to save them from starvation.
Armed with placards with various inscriptions denouncing the nonpayment of their entitlements, the senior citizens said about 2,500 of their members had died as at March, 2018.
The chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Osun State chapter, Alhaji Ganiyu Salawu, said Governor Rauf Aregbesola had refused to pay the 33 per cent as well as the 142 per cent increment implemented for pensioners.
Salawu said, “Majority of our people are dying of hunger. Our entitlement not regular, and the issue of half salaries and pension is very bad. The 33 per cent increase implemented in 2010 has not been implemented. The 142 per cent increment is not paid also.
“We have written letters to the governor but there is no acknowledgement of our letters, we also wrote five reminder letters, still there is no response.
“We don’t have any grudge against the government but we want our entitlements. We are not politicians and no politician is using us, what we what is that out entitlements should be paid so that we can begin to live a decent life. We have worked so hard and now that we are supposed to be eating the fruits of our labour, the government is depriving us.
“Some of our members have been ejected from homes because they can’t pay rent, our children are out of schools. Some of our graduates are jobless, so, how do they take care of themselves let alone their parents.”
The leader of Forum of 201/2012 Retirees, Alhaji Yemi Lawal, said no fewer than 2,500 retirees had died as at March saying the majority of the deceased died due to starvation and frustration.
Lawal said. “The governor is using the money to construct roads and build schools even where there are no pupils.
“A kilometre of road is constructed on the average with N600 million in most states in the country but in Osun, it is N1.2 billion and this is why there is focus on road construction.
“Our people are dying on daily basis and that is why we are out to protest again. We cannot continue to watch this happening on a daily basis. The governor was paid a bailout of N35 billion, Paris club repayment and budget support of N14 billion but he is still owing us. This agitation will continue until we are paid.
We have recorded 2500 deaths among our members as at March this year and a retired headmaster committed such in Ejigbo. We wrote to the lawmakers at the House of Assembly and they have not responded since. The lawmakers are fighting for their pockets.”
The chairperson, Women Wing, Osun State chapter of NUP, Mrs. Ronke Aderibigbe, said returnees had been facing very tough challenges due to the problem of unpaid pensions and gratuities.
She said many retirees had been turned to beggars because of the financial challenges they were facing while calling on the state government to pay them.