The pensioners of the Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, are in hardship following the non-payment of their gratuities totalling N1.5 billion, an official has said.
Samuel Akinwale, the chairperson of the Nigerian Universities’ Pensioners Association(NUPA), EKSU chapter, told journalists Tuesday in Ado-Ekiti that the unpaid arrears spanned over 15 years.
The pensioners said they are also in pain over the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities which had kept them from their pensions for the period of the strike.
They are, therefore, seeking an end to the strike so that their members could earn their pension and gratuities.
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Mr Akinwale said it was inappropriate and disturbing for the university to withhold their pensions since May 2022 due to ASUU’s strike.
He said many of their members had gone into their early graves in the last 15 years due to undue sufferings and neglect occasioned by the inability of the university to defray their gratuities as and when due.
The pensioners appealed to Governor Kayode Fayemi to increase monthly subvention to the university, while urging the Vice Chancellor, Eddy Olanipekun, to embark on aggressive internally generated revenue drives to fund the institution.
“All our members are being owed five months’ pensions from May 2022 to date due to what we are made to know as the ongoing ASUU strike in the university,” Mr Akonwale said.
“We are calling on the Ekiti State government to intervene in this matter by bailing out the university through a special fund, which may likely save our people from going to their early graves.
“Pensioners are not on strike, but in retirement and should not be made to bear undue punishment because a particular union is on strike.
“We want to appeal to the State government who owns EKSU to direct the striking lecturers to call off their strike, so that life will return to that university.
“We are stating this because ASUU in several states nationwide have called off their strike while ASUU in some states universities didn’t participate in the strike at all, including Bamidele Olumilua University of Education, Science and Technology, Ikere Ekiti.
“We call on the state government to increase funding, particularly monthly subvention to EKSU. Stakeholders, alumni, staff, pensioners should also sit up in providing a roadmap for the prosperity of the institution in the area of revenue generation”.
Speaking further on the inability of the institution to discharge responsibilities to retirees, Mr Akinwale added that many of those who retired 15 years ago only received a quarter of their gratuities, describing this as wicked and insensitive.
“If someone retires in 2007 and just a quarter of his gratuity was paid, I don’t really know whether the balance will be paid to him in the grave, while some have not been paid at all,” he added.
“The University can create a special account where pensions can be kept for disbursement to our members, while also embarking on money-yielding ventures to increase available funds.
“Several of our members have died. It appears our leaders are wicked. If they are not wicked, they should allow old people to live good lives, because the present situation is pitiable.”
When contacted, the Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Akin Omole, said the EKSU is autonomous and runs its finances under the directive of the governing council.
He said he would not be able to speak directly on the reasons why the pensioners have not been paid their monthly pensions.
However, EKSU’s Head of Directorate of Information and Corporate Affairs, Bode Olofinmuagun, said the salaries of workers and pensioners and workers were jointly prepared and since the workers have not been paid, it also affected the pensioners.
He, however, said the issue of unpaid gratuities was not peculiar to EKSU, noting that the state government is also owing its pensioners arrears of gratuities.
“We know that the pensioners are not on strike, but when salaries are prepared that is when pensions are also prepared alongside it,” said Mr Olofinmuagun.
“Workers have not been paid, that is why they also have not received their pensions.
“But it is an issue the management will look into and I can assure you, it will be addressed.”
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