By Victor Adeoti
Pensioners under the aegis of ‘Forum of 2011/2012 Osun Retirees’ on Thursday staged a protest in Osogbo, alleging non-payment of their 12 months pension and gratuity by the state government.
The pensioners, who carried placards with various inscriptions, also accused the state government of diverting bailout funds meant for payment of salaries.
They marched through the major roads in Osogbo, the state capital, chanting various anti-government songs.
Speaking on the side-lines of the protest, the chairman of the group, Mr Omoniyi Ilesanmi, said more than 2,000 pensioners had died while many others were sick.
Ilesanmi said that many retirees were living in dilapidated buildings while their children were out of school because of the inability to pay their school fees.
“The untimely and avoidable deaths continue unabated among us because of non-payment of our benefits; over 2,000 pensioners have died.
“Many are on the sick bed; many are married to their wheel chairs till God knows when.
“Our children are out of school because their retired parents cannot maintain them.
“Many retirees are living in dilapidated buildings like lunatics; our creditors are making life very difficult for us thinking that we have been paid and we do not want to offset our debts.
“We have no option than to come out on the streets again to press for our demands which is the prompt payment of our statutory entitlements from the recently released Paris Club Refund,” he said.
But in his reaction, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lani Baderinwa, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the allegations were not true.
Baderinwa said government had paid salaries and pension up to the month of May.
The commissioner also said that the state was yet to receive the second tranche of the Paris club refund, contrary to the claims of the pensioners
He added that the protest by the pensioners was politically motivated, adding that it was wrong for them to have alleged government diversion of the Paris club refund.