The Borno Government on Tuesday commenced payment of N12 billion outstanding pension arrears of 3,000 retired civil servants in the state.
Governor Babagana Zulum disclosed this on Tuesday while presenting the cheques to the pensioners at the Government House, Maiduguri.
He said the amount was part of the backlog of arrears inherited from the previous administrations from 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 would be fully paid.
He said the payment was facilitated through a loan of N12 billion from Zenith Bank of Nigeria and commended the State House of Assembly for the approval of the loan request.
“At the inception of this administration from May 29 2019, the total of backlog of the state gratuities liability was about N19.7 billion. Consequently, government had so far paid gratuities to the sum of about N2 billion, making the outstanding of the unpaid gratuities to about N17 billion. In the same vain, the outstanding gratuities and local government pensioners as at May 29, 2020 stood at about N12.4 billion. So far, about N600 million has been released recently to kick start the payment of LGA staff, bringing the backlog to about N5billion”.
He said N5 billion was also paid in salary arrears and to those unable to be captured under the state government’s biometric verification exercise in the last one year.
“The accumulated and backlog of gratuities over the years has become worrisome, but government was making frantic efforts to settle the backlog of pension and arrears to our retired civil servants. This singular act of paying gratuities to the retirees in the state and local government pensioners will go a long way in reducing their sufferings. It will also reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth in the state”.
The governor said that the gesture was in fulfillment of one of the policies of his administration which was the provision of “Good Governance” to the people of the state.
“One of our ten-pact agenda under good governance was payment of all salaries, pensions and gratuities to the civil servant as at when due. We shall therefore do everything possible to settle all the outstanding gratuities”.
He expressed concern over the backlog of outstanding gratuities accumulated by the previous administrations from 2017 to 2019, which he said was about N30 billion.
“We are owing the state civil servants about N17 billion, the local government education authority alone is being owned about N6 billion, while the LGA staff were being owed N4billion. This is worrisome, civil servants, who retired from 2012, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17, having worked for 35 years cannot get their payments. Accordingly, government has commenced the migration of 900 retirees into a harmonised system where they can access their benefits three months after retirement. This initiative will indeed bring relief to the retirees”.
Reacting, Abubakar Maina, a retiree who received a cheque of N12 million commended the governor for paying his benefit.
“It was a thing of joy to me and my family. I retired since 2012, but I was not paid my arrears. I want to thank Almighty God and thank the governor for making this possible.
Umar Usman, another pensioner who expressed the same feeling, thanked the governor for giving priority to the plight of pensioners.
Usman said the action of the governor had redeemed the hope of the civil servants in the state.