More than 500 people retired from Delta Civil Service on Wednesday marched through major roads in Asaba, Delta state capital to protest the state’s failure to pay their pension and gratuity running into six years.
Some placards carried by the protesting retirees read: “No payment of contributory retirees pensions, no second term; Okowa, emulate other state governors that have given retirees full their full benefits; Gov Okowa for God’s sake pay retirees, we have worked for the state”.
Others read: “Okowa, use 2011 salary structure for Delta State retirees; Implement harmonisation of quit Government House among others”.
The retirees claim they are owed around N50 billion since 2010.
They demanded that the state government should harmonise the retirees benefit in line with the new 2010/2011 salary structure as against what was being paid under the old structure of 7,500 which placed state retirees at disadvantage compared to Local Government workers.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Anthony Osanekwu, said 10 years after the Contributory Pensions Scheme came into being, Delta was still grappling with issues in a scheme that was supposed to be auto-run.
“Even with the third tranche of the bailout fund by the Federal Government, out of the N10 billion giving to Delta Government, only a paltry sum of N300 million was given to the Contributory Pension Scheme,” he said.
He noted that the default by the state government in the payment of the five per cent of the monthly wage-bill of its employees into the Retirement Benefit Bond Redemption Fund account since April 2007 has accumulated to about N18.2 billion as at December 2014.
According to Ovwiroro the issues biting the retirees include delay by the state government in payment of retirement benefits to workers who retired under the contributory pension scheme who have waited for four to six years.
“Also irregular payment delay of the state government 10 per cent pension fund contribution into the retirement savings account (RSA) of contributors in the state public service is also a challenge”.
He said the way forward is for the state government to direct the accountant general of the federation through a letter of Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) to pay N500 million monthly from the state revenue allocation from the Federation Account into the pensions fund account until the debt was liquidated.
“Henceforth, all payment to retirees under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) should be based on the harmonised Pension.
“If all our suggestions are not feasible, all public service retirees in the state should be reverted to the Old Pension Scheme (Pay-As-You-Go) until the State government is ready for the Contributory Pension Scheme,” Ovwiroro said.
The chairman said though the government had promised to workout modalities and look into ways of solving their problems, that the association would reconvene soonest with their whole family in government house should the government fail to keep her promise.