Pensioners under the auspices of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) from South West zone, on Thursday, threatened to institute legal action against the 36 state governors over their failure to pay accumulated arrears of gratuities and pension in the country.
The pensioners who issued a two-month ultimatum to the state governors across the nation in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which stated that it is u unlawful to owe them their entitlements.
The Southwest Zonal Chairman of NUP, Chief Ayo Kumapayi and the Spokesman of the Union, Olusegun Abatan, who handed down the threat said they might head to court to seek justice and to compel the state governors to pay gratuities and pension as and when due.
They said the legal action became imperative to protect the pensioners from cases of unwarranted sickness and death arising as a result of unpaid entitlements by the state governments of Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun and Ondo as well as other parts of the country.
Kumapayi attributed the failure of many state governors to pay pensioners gratuities and pension regularly on reckless spending on humongous salaries and allowances of political office holders.
Humongous salaries and allowances of public office holders especially senators and House Representatives members who take home N13m and N14m monthly need to be reviewed, how can those people be collecting such huge money in a country where 80 per cent are battling to meet daily meal”, Kumapayi said.
He NUP Zonal leaders also demanded for the review of law setting up the Revenue Mobilisations, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to empower it to place all the political office holders including the President, governors, ministers, Federal and state lawmakers on the same salary scale with civil servants from Grade Level-18 to Grade Level-25 in the country.
The pensioners said this would save the country’s economy from collapsing and allow the government to have more money to take care of the needs of the less privileged who wallowing in abject poverty and deprivation.
Kumapayi said “President Buhari should use his second term in office to do something about such take home by our federal lawmakers, they should be placed on same salary scale with the civil servants to reduce pressure on the nation’s economy.
“Those who want to genuinely serve will take, political offices have been turning to money-making and no longer for service for humanity”,
“Let the President be on GL 25, Vice President will be on GL 24, governors on GL 23 downward like that, this will save our nation from reckless and killing salaries and allowances”.
The Southwest NUP commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the huge step taken recently to grant local government financial autonomy, saying the decision would prevent many state governors from spending local governments’ funds nationwide as pocket money.
Also speaking, the National Deputy General Secretary of NUP, Chief Joseph Okunade said the national leadership of the Pensioners was in full support of the legal action against the state governors.
Okunade said, “we at the south-west zone call for the inclusion of retirees in the new N30,000 minimum wage to be known as the National Minimum Pension.
We advise governors who are grumbling over the payment of the new wage to shun frivolous spending to enable them to meet workers and pensioners’ needs”.