Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, on Thursday claimed that his administration cleared eight years gratuity and pensions arrears left behind by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) controlled government in his state.
He was reacting to allegations that he has not paid pension arrears and creating problems for the incoming administration in Edo State.
Oshiomhole, who spoke with State House correspondents in Abuja, explained that the 13 years arrears he met have been reduced to 4 years.
Stressing that more arrears will be cleared before his tenure expires; he maintained that there is no pension arrears for those already captured in the scheme.
He said: “The problem PDP has in Edo State is very clear to everyone. First, they had the privilege of presiding over the state for 10 years, from 1999 to 2008. During this period, their records with regards to workers are clear.
“First, on assumption of office in 1999, PDP government sacked all permanent secretaries because they needed their agents as permanent secretaries. They had to sack the ones they met and appoint fresh ones.
“The following year, 2000, they sacked over 7,000 civil servants and none of them was paid gratuity or pension. From 1998 when the Army left, to 1999 and to the end of 2008 when I took over, that was a period of 13 years.
“So we found a pension bill of 13 years, arrears of gratuity and pension not paid by the PDP government including the 7,000 people they dismissed.
“When I assumed duties at the end of 2008, I had two options. There was this temptation to see that I would be paying those who retired during my tenure. But as a former leader, I asked myself that if an employer was so callous to carry out massive retrenchment of workers as the PDP did by sacking 7,000 workers and did not pay them gratuity, is it the fault of those workers?” he queried
Continuing, he said: “So, I accepted the fact that government is a continuum. So as we speak today, we have paid all those who pensioned in 1998 and 1999, all those they dismissed in 2000 and those who retired from 2001 to 2011.
“So I have paid pension arrears of 13 years even though I have been in government for only seven years plus,” he said.
He pointed out that he would have paid double if he had limited himself to pension bills of those who retired during his tenure.
Stressing that his government has brought change, he said that pensioners in Edo State, before he assumed office, don’t normally get their pension until they go to the streets.
He said that some of the pensioners died in the process.
He added: “But today, those who are already on our pension list, whose gratuity has not been paid, they pay them pensions the same day that we pay salaries.
“We are not in arrears of one month pension to those who are already in the scheme. I am proud to say that, talking about leaving arrears, I met 13 years arrears and I have reduced it to four years. Before the end of my tenure, we will still pay more and that number of years will still be further reduced. So when you look at these facts, PDP can’t talk,” he said.
He said that his administration has been able to raised highest civil servant in Edo State to Grade Level 17 from 16 in line with their federal counterpart.
According to him, his administration has increased minimum wage while other state governors are still debating that it was too high.
On salary, he said: “We are not in arrears of one month salary in Edo State, we are up to date. For all those who are in direct employment of the state government, including teachers at all levels.
“We have also gone out of the convention to think outside the box because for me, the most important workers in Nigeria are teachers. If the state cannot deliver on public health, infrastructure, we must not fail to deliver on education because the world is knowledge-driven and is increasingly digitalised.
“Only nations with educated citizens can cope with the rigors of competition in a digitalised world and we are giving primary attention to that,” he stated.