The Edo State Government has called on local government pensioners in the state to exercise patience as it addresses backlog of pension arrears using a ‘phased approach,’ nothing that “N2.1 billion has been disbursed to offset the bills from January to September, and that they would get more when economic indicators improve.”
A statement by the government in response to renewed protests by pensioners, who obstructed vehicular and human traffic at Ring Road, in Benin City, the state capital, on Monday, said that much as it was concerned and sympathetic to the plight of the pensioners, government is doing all within its power to ensure that the backlog owed by previous administrations has not extended into the current dispensation.
“From January till date, since this administration settled into power, it has paid pension emoluments to all arms of government promptly and has promised to clear the arrears owed by previous administrations when the economic environment improves” the government said in the statement.
According to the state government, “We are using a phased approach to tackle the pension arrears issue. It is unfortunate that these bills built up for over two decades. We have already disbursed N2.1 billion between January and September. We are confident that the approach we have adopted would gradually ease the burden of pension arrears in the state, as it would, over time, help in offsetting all outstanding issues.”
The state government faulted allegations that the state governor misapplied the Paris Club refund, stressing “the state judiciously used the fund to offset salaries, emoluments and gratuities, which was why it wasn’t owing workers’ salaries, which is a common trend in many states across the country.”
Reacting to protest by the pensioners, the statement said, “We are pained to see these protesters. But we want them to understand the times, as well. We have just survived a recession, and things are picking up. But in all these, we have been consistent and faithful to our commitments to workers in the state. It is only unfortunate that the pension arrears built up for over two decades.