By Simeon Nwakaudu
During the heat of the 2019 Electioneering Campaigns, the moribund Rivers APC concorted the false story of non-payment of Pensioners. This was the falsehood they sponsored in the media, until the facts were laid bare to members of the public, who disregarded their tales of mischief.
They had a handful of Pro-APC Media outlets to sell this falsehood without graphically illustrating Governor Governor Wike’s outstanding commitment to the welfare of pensioners.
It must be stated unequivocally that Governor Wike has been consistent in the payment of Pensioners, just as he is committed to the monthly payment of civil servants.
Governor Wike cleared the four months pension arrears he inherited from the Amaechi administration, before entrenching the regular payment of monthly pensions.
However, there were Pensioners who fell under the defective Contributory Pension Scheme of the immediate past APC Administration in Rivers State. These were the Pensioners with payment Challenges.
The Wike Administration had to follow due process to amend the law and create the platform for payment of those under the Contributory Pension Scheme.
After winning his second term, Governor Wike made a firm commitment to this category of Pensioners during the 2019 workers day.
He said: “Recall that we came into office when our workforces, especially civil servants, were at the receiving end of the State Government’s anti-labour policies: no payment of salaries and pensions; no promotions; no training and no employment to replace those retiring.
” But we chose to be different even in the face of financial constraints, which have not totally abated. Four years after, I am happy to note that we are up to date in the payment of full salaries and pensions to all our working and retired civil servants. This is a profound responsibility we have not and will never default in the life of our administration.We are also aware of your concern over the non-resolution of some of the welfare issues we inherited, especially the predicament with our contributory pension scheme, the continuing stagnation of workers and the ban on employment of new hands to fill the existing vacancies in the civil service.
“We have taken the initial steps to tackle the legal huddles with the Pension Reform Bill, which is now before the State House of Assembly for consideration and passage into law. When passed, this bill will eliminate the handicaps in the existing legal regime and enable the administration of a seamless and positive pension scheme for our workers in the State. I therefore ask our pensioners that are still trapped in the existing dysfunctional pension scheme to be patient as we are doing everything possible to clear the mess and restore sanity and sustainability to the State’s pension system for the benefit of all”.
PENSION REFORM LAW AND IMPLEMENTATION
In line with the Governor’s Commitment, the pension law was signed. It was one of the very first actions of Governor Wike as he resumed for his second term. The Pension Reform Law came into effect on May 31, 2019.
Governor Wike said that the Rivers State Pension Reform Law (No 4 of 2019) will help in resolving the challenges generated by the Contributory Pension scheme.
He said that the State Government is committed to ensuring that civil servants and pensioners are catered for, with the challenges they faced completely addressed.
In fulfillment of the pledge made by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike after he signed into law, the Rivers State Pension Reform Law (No 4 of 2019), the Rivers State Government has commenced the payment of pensioners under the Contributory Pension Scheme.
More Pensioners under this category are being captured and paid. It is an effective process that will shortly come to a close.
CLEAR AND INCONTROVERTIBLE STATISTICS ON IMPLEMENTATION OF PENSIONS UNDER GOVERNOR WIKE
It is said that facts are sacred. The facts on the commitment of Governor Wike to the welfare of Pensioners is outstanding and very positive.
Here are the figures:
NUMBER OF RETIREES CAPTURED AS AT OCTOBER, 2019
Retires under the under the define benefit scheme (mainstream and parastatal) 12,901
Contributory pension scheme –define benefit scheme (mainstream and parastatal) 3,348
Retirees in Diaspora ((mainstream and parastatal) 33
Sick/indispose (mainstream) 7
Total number of retirees captured as at 31st October, 2019 16,289
Report on captured retirees not yet sent for payments (this number is included in the report above)
Batch 2 contributory pension scheme – define benefit scheme (mainstream and parastatal) 2,047
Batch 12 define benefit scheme (mainstream and parastatal) 417
Batch 13 define benefit scheme (mainstream and parastatal) 42
Batch 14 define benefit scheme (mainstream and parastatal) 3
TOTAL NUMBER OF RETIREES CAPTURED AND NOT YET SENT FOR PAYMENTS 2,672.
The facts are clear.
A prominent member of the All Progressives Congress ( APC), Mr Lucky Ati parades himself as the spokesman of the retirees. Ati has undergone biometric capture and he has been payrolled. He is receiving his monthly pension. There are hundreds of pensioners have undergone biometric capture and are on the payroll.
The Pensioners not yet payrolled have either not been captured or have discrepancies with their documents . There are some Pensioners who have refused to present themselves for biometric capture. Lucky Ati, the APC Chieftain was co-opted by his political party to promote falsehood about the pension reform scheme, which the immediate past APC Administration foisted on the state.
The biometric capture is an ongoing exercise because civil servants retire monthly. Every month, the Head of Service forwards new retirees to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Department for biometric capture.
Therefore, fresh figures will continue to emerge and the Rivers State Government under the leadership of Governor Wike will continue to handle the challenges of new retirees .
As Governor Wike continues to fix Rivers State, we expect these APC chieftains in different garbs to sponsor their media outlets to dish out lies. But like always, they will hide their concocted stories when confronted with the truth.
Summarily, the commitment of Governor Wike to the welfare of Pensioners is exemplified by the initiation and assent of
Rivers State Pension Reform Law (No 4 of 2019). That all-important law is already being implemented for the good of Pensioners under the Contributory Pension Scheme.