The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Osun State Chapter hereby calls on the Aregbesola/APC government in Osun State to immediately settle the pension of retirees in Osun State. Many of these retirees are already leaving from hand to mouth, despite having committed their active lives to serving the society. Many of them are already infirm and can hardly afford the exorbitant hospital bills no thanks to commercialization of healthcare by various governments in the country, including the Aregbesola government. Many have their children in schools, and can hardly pay high fees. While many of these retirees have not been put on the payroll since their retirement in December 2012, those already on the payroll are still owed several months of unpaid pension arrears and gratuity. Thus, these retirees, who have no other means of livelihood, can hardly meet their basic needs, while majority are already in debt.
We in the SPN support the protest action organized by the retirees in the state. Indeed, we commend them for taking this road, since the Aregbesola government has refused to listen to reason. We call on the retirees to continue on this path and build it up. We call on them to mobilize other oppressed people in the state including students, youth, traders, artisans, etc to their cause through educative and enlightenment campaign. We also call on leadership of labour movement to stop its criminal silence over the plight of retirees whose union incidentally is an affiliate of NLC. We call for joint struggle of workers and their retired counterparts for living wages and pension as well as their prompt payment.
We condemn the posture and position of the Aregbesola government to the demand of the pensioners. Attempt by the commissioner for finance, Wale Bolorunduro, to place the blame of non-payment of retirees’ entitlement on the retirees themselves is at best ridiculous. The commissioner, in an issued statement, suggested that the failure of retirees to get paid is because they retired earlier, and did not allow themselves to be exploited by the fraudulent Contributory Pension Scheme put in place by government to shirk in its responsibility to workers. Indeed, it was the government that forced many of the workers to retire earlier, through its new pension policy that compelled workers in the state who have spent more than 20 years in service to retire compulsorily or join the Contributory Pension Scheme, where they will only receive a fraction (less than 20 percent) of their pension for some years. While they would have loved to work for more years, they chose to retire because they believed government would behave more responsibly than Shylock pension managers.
Moreover, the Commissioner was economical with the truth when he tried to place the whole blame of the anti-worker pension policy the previous Oyinlola/PDP government. While it is true that the Oyinlola government introduced the anti-worker, anti-retiree policy in 2009, the fact is that Aregbesola government implemented this obnoxious policy. Therefore, the blame of this policy should be placed at the doorstep of both Oyinlola/PDP and Aregbesola/APC administrations.
While we call for the immediate settling of pension and gratuity arrears of retirees in the state, and immediately placement of all retirees on the payroll, we also call for the immediate scrapping of the obnoxious new pension policy that is only meant to enrich private pension managers while absolving government of its commitment to adequate and living pension, all at the expense of poor retirees. We also call for a living pension for all retiree, and full implementation of minimum wage in the state. We also call for the formation of a pension fund to be managed by elected representative of retirees, workers’ unions and government representatives in order to guarantee living pension and prompt payment to all retirees.
Alfred Adegoke Kola Ibrahim
State Chairman State Secretary