Lagos — Activities at Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos office, were yesterday paralysed by aggrieved pensioners protesting unpaid gratuities and pension arrears.
This came barely four months after the state government appealed to the federal government to settle N13.4 billion pension benefits of her retirees in the state.
The protesters largely retired teachers and local government ex-staff stormed Alausa Secretariat at about 9:00 am displaying placards with inscriptions: "Non-review of the pension law for over 10 years," "We are tired of unfulfilled promises," "Except Lagos, other South-West states have complied with FG directives on the increment of pension," among others.
They lamented that the state did not yield to the directive of the federal government to pay pension increment in 2003 and 2007 to the retirees in the state.
The pensioners argued that whenever they demanded for their benefits the government would plead for more time to pay.
They alleged that rather than pay them, the state government was busy investing her fund in the contributory pension scheme.
The protesters demanded that the state government should make public the reimbursement it was expecting from the central government.
The South-West chairman of pensioners, Mr. Nojeemdeen Adebayo who spoke on behalf of others, said: "In 2003, the Federal government directed that states should increase pensioner's monthly salary by six per cent but the state government failed to pay the increment. And 2007, the central government again directed that pensioners should be paid 16 percent increment.
"But to our surprise, the Lagos state government turned deaf ear to this. For over four years now, what we have always heard from the state government is that we should be patient.
"But we discovered that the patience isn't yielding the right solution. This was why we decided to protest to the office of the governor, to demand for our rights."
However, addressing the protesters, Commissioner for Information and strategy, Aderemi Ibirogba and his counterpart in the ministry of pension and establishment, Mrs. Florence Oguntuase, assured that government was working hard to address the pensioners' grievance.
According to Oguntuase: "We are working hard to ensure that the funds are paid but it is yet to yield the required result.
"What we are doing is to pay all the current liabilities. When a public servant retires, it takes sometime before the pension begins to roll in. we are paying pension."