A retired judge of the Osun State High Court, Justice Folahanmi Oloyede, on Wednesday led hundreds of retirees in protest against the non-payment of their gratuities and pensions by Governor Rauf Aregbesola-led administration.
The protesters marched through some streets in Osogbo, the state capital, demanding the payment of the money owed them by the government.
The pensioners started a three-day protest on Tuesday and they gathered again on Wednesday in continuation of the agitation for payment of their entitlements, which they claimed the state government had not been paying.
Oloyede had written a petition against Aregbesola’s administration in 2015, detailing the alleged failure of the government in many areas, including non-payment of workers’ salaries and pensions.
She was eventually recommended for a compulsory retirement by the National Judicial Council.
The retired judge, who was helped at the Olaiya Junction into a mini truck used by the protesting pensioners as their platform, urged the retirees to bring their permanent voter cards while coming for the final day of the protest on Thursday (today).
Oloyede sang labour songs and urged the aged protesters not to be weary in the demand for their rights, saying they would all be alive to collect their entitlements.
The retired judge, in an interview with PUNCH Metro, said the primary duties of any responsible government were welfare of the citizens and their security.
She said any government that failed in the two areas had failed woefully in the discharge of its primary duties.
The retired judge said pensioners would be persistent in their struggle to ensure that their pensions and gratuities were paid.
She said, “Labourers deserve their wages and it is covetousness to spend what belongs to other people. It is a crime to spend pensions and gratuities of the people and deny them their rights. We are not beggars, we worked for the entitlements and the government saved this money for us while we were serving the state.”
Asked if she was also being owed, Oloyede said, “Is there any pensioner that is not being owed in this state? Some are being paid half pensions and others are being owed.
“The whole essence of government is for the welfare and security of the people. Anybody who is satisfied with hardship can choose to ensure the government continues, but those who are not satisfied should vote for who they like with their PVCs.”
One of the leaders of Forum of 2011/2012 Retirees, Alhaji Yemi Lawal, said the state government was owing some of the pensioners about 18 months as a result of part payment of their pensions.
Lawal said, “But pensioners will not stop demanding for their rights. The state government has concentrated on infrastructural development at the expense of workers and pensioners’ welfare.”
Meanwhile, one of the retirees, a 78-year-old school teacher, Mr Joseph Olaoye, slumped during the protest.
Olaoye’s colleagues rushed him to the bus belonging to the Nigeria Union of Pensioners parked at the venue of the protest and gave him water and glucose.
The old man, who was a teacher at AUD Primary School in the Gbonmi area of Osogbo, became stable and refused to leave the scene but sat inside the bus till the end of the protest.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr Adelani Baderinwa, described the pensioners as ungrateful people who had refused to acknowledge the efforts made by the governor to pay them.
He said, “It is out of place to say that the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola is insensitive to the plight of the pensioners. The protesting pensioners are out for a cheap blackmail against the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
“It is on record that this group of pensioners had at one time or the other in the past lied against the government of the State of Osun.
“The government wishes to call the attention of the people of the State of Osun to the fact that the 2011/2012 group of pensioners does not represent the totality of pensioners in the state. The 2011/2012 pensioners are politicians and not pensioners. They are in pursuit of political matters.
“It amounts to ingratitude, mischief and politicisation of fact to accuse Aregbesola of not paying pensions and gratuities by anybody. It is very unfortunate that some of our senior citizens allowed themselves to be used by politicians to disrupt the ongoing progress of the state.” – Punch
– Jul. 26, 2018 @ 9:27 GMT |