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Pensioners in Kano protest over N36.9bn unpaid benefits

Some aggrieved pensioners have stormed the Kano State Government House to protest non-payment of their benefits amounting to over N36 billion.

It was gathered that the pensioners marched from the Emir’s house on State road and terminated at the entrance of the Government House to express their greviances.

The pensioners displayed placards with inscriptions such as: Monthly pension deductions must be stopped; Pay us our pension arrears; Resume compliance to pension laws; Pension, our deducted benefits and monthly pension is non-taxable by law, why deduct on it?, among others.

Speaking during the protest, the Kano State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Kabiru Ado Minijibir, who joined the protesting pensioners in solidarity, said the current outstanding retirees benefits in the state, as at June, 2022 stands at N36.9 billion.

The NLC chairman noted that the unremitted 17 per cent contributions from defaulting organisations stand at N69,257,961,597.98, saying that the aforementioned figure cut across three successive administrations from April 2006 to August, 2022, comprising the tenures of Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and the present administration of Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

He disclosed that from January 2021 to August 2022, the sum of N2,573,099,041.61 was deducted from Local Government pensioners, adding that the deduction was made “out of their legitimate monthly pensions with a minimum of 13 per cent monthly shortfall payment per pensioner in the month of October, 2021 and a maximum of 26.2 per cent in February, 2022.

“From March, 2021 to August, 2022, the sum of N906,917,595.71 with a minimum of 2 per cent monthly payment shortfall in the month of September, 2021 and maximum of 11.2 per cent in August, 2022 from the State pensioners’ monthly enticements.”

He lamented that the situation has inflicted hardship on thousands of pensioners in the state, as many of them are suffering from one ailment or the other and there was no money for treatment.

Minijibir called on the government to ensure defaulting MDAs on the remittance of 17 per cent monthly contributions, to immediately start full remittance from the month of September, 2022.

He noted that “implementing the above will automatically solve the problem of non-payments of 100 per cent monthly pensions. Release substantial amount of funds at once to continue offsetting the outstanding liabilities.”

Receiving the protesting pensioners, Governor Ganduje said the current administration never failed to pay monthly salary and pensions.

Represented by the Head of Service/Chief of Staff to the Governor, Usman Bala, the governor said he was highly concernedabout the pensioners and would do everything possible to ensure pensioners’ welfare through policies and programmes.

He said the government has been consistently remitting its 8 per cent contribution as well as employees’ 17 per cent contribution to pension trust fund.

“But, the 17 per cent remittance is unable to pay 100 per cent monthly pensioners’ wage bill, which resulted to the discrepancy we are talking about in terms of deduction.

“So, there is nothing government can do about that because government is keeping to its responsibility by ensuring full deduction and full remittance.

“However, because of the staff attrition, a number of civil servants were retiring in cohorts without requisite replacement. Except during this administration when the government said whoever retires, will be replaced with another civil servant.

“I share in your grief. If I leave office, I will be a pensioner like you, so I will do everything possible to ensure this discrepancy is resolved,” Ganduje assured.

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