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‘Benue owes pensioners 120 months of back pay.’



Since the commencement of Governor Hyacinth Alia’s administration, pensioners on the payroll of the Benue state government and those of local governments have received four and three months’ payouts, respectively.

State pensioners received payments from May to August 2023, while local government pensioners received payments from June to August 2023.

Michael Vember, the State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of pensions, NUP, stated in a chat that the government’s mode of payment had left roughly 77 months arrears accumulated by successive governments for local government pensions and 43 months for state pensioners.

He explained that the administration opted to draw a line in the sand and start over by paying all pensioners in the state and promising to remove all backlogs when money became available.

Vember lamented that pensioners have been hit the hardest by the country’s economic downturn since the removal of petrol subsidies by President Bola Tinubu’s administration, emphasising that their situation is pathetic given that some retirees receive as little as N4,000 monthly as pension.

“Initially, when Governor Hyacinth Alia took over, he focused on paying state pensioners, excluding local government pensioners,” he explained. When we brought it to his notice, he began paying local government pensioners as well.

“So far he has paid up to August 2023. But the fact is that he has decided to create arrears in between because, like local government pensioners their payment stopped at May 2018. So he jumped and started paying from June 2023. Thereby leaving behind a backlog of arrears from May 2018 to May 2023.

“He did the same thing with state pensioners. The state had arrears from May 2020 and he jumped to May 2023 and started paying from that point. 

“So far, the governor has paid state pensioners four months while local government pensioners have received three months. He is paying across board. 

“He also promised to pay the arrears, but he has made no effort to do so.” He directed that the arrears be computed and held for him until monies were available for payment. But he hasn’t told us when he’ll pay.”

Vember spoke on how Benue retirees are dealing with the country’s economic crisis, saying, “What we are going through is actually very disheartening.” Retirees have been placed in the worst possible position or condition after the termination of the petrol subsidy.

“This is because the minimum wage for civil servants is N30,000, but the minimum wage for pensioners in Benue state is around N4,000.” You can see the difference. If you are taking N20,000 or N30,000 and you are unable to cope with economic reality, what hope does the retiree on N4,000 have? You can see how bad our condition is.

“As a result, pensioners are the hardest hit by the country’s current economic downturn.” That is our circumstance, and we cannot be left in this state; we gave our everything to our country, and I believe we deserve the same in return.

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