Thousands of retired civil servants in Delta State whose pension payment have been delayed now have reason to be happy following a reprieve from Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan who has directed an immediate payment of pension arrears.
By the arrangement hammered out in a meeting between the Governor and members of the organized labour union, government would in the next four months pay five hundred million naira amounting to two billion naira to gradually clear the backlog of pension arrears.
Also, the government agreed to release another five hundred million Naira monthly beginning from this month, amounting to four billion Naira in the next eight months to offset outstanding counterpart funding of the of the contributory pension fund.
To remove any bottleneck that may arise, Governor Uduaghan directed that both monies be deducted at first line charge.
Besides it was resolved at the meeting that another five hundred million naira be released for payment to those who receive their pension under the old payment method.
Dr. Uduaghan who was hailed by the labour unions as a friend of the workers said he would continue to take the interest of workers seriously and promised a more robust relationship between government and labour.
Giving details of the delay in paying the pensioners, the Governor explained that the State has been grappling with challenges of fund from the federation account but noted that the new pension scheme was problematic and hinted that federal government may be forced to take another look at it.
As a further reprieve for retired civil servants who were asked to vacate their government premises, Dr. Uduaghan directed that they be allowed to stay and be given two months of grace after they have received their pension arrears.
Earlier the state Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council ( JNC), Comrade Goodluck Ofobruku and State chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) Comrade Williams Akporehe in their presentations handed to the Governor a six point demand which included the settlement of pension issues, perceived excessive taxation of civil servants, implementation of the minimum wage, the National Housing Fund, New scheme of service, revaluation of the accounts of workers as well as the weigh in allowance for media workers.
They had complained that most retired civil servants were facing untold hardship due to the delay in getting their statutory allowances after serving the government.
At the end of the meeting, members of the workers’ unions expressed appreciation to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for handling the issues raised with brilliant dispatch.
“Based on what we have been offered by the State Governor, I can assure you that the threat for strike would be put off”, Ofoburuku stated while fielding questions form journalists after the meeting
He said that they would take the message back to their colleagues expressing the hope that the idea of an industrial action will no longer be feasible.