The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Sunday, said his administration has spent a total of N25 billion (N25,047,472,632.77) paying 13,081 pensioners in the state, monthly, from November 2016 to May 2020.

This was contained in a ‘Mid-Year Report’ by the Edo State Pension Bureau detailing the state’s four years expenditures on pension, a copy of which was sent to Igbere TV by the state government via mail.

The Governor, who was sworn in on November 12, 2016, also said his administration has expended over N4.3 billion in clearing the backlog of outstanding pension arrears owed about 3,128 pensioners in the state.

According to the report, “The government spent a total of N771,714,393.01 between November and December 2016 for the payment of pensions; N 5,371,283,211.09 was expended in 2017; N6,452,535,649.08 in 2018 and N7,936,681,957.45 in 2019.

“For 2020, the government spent N735,069,623.04; N736,780,760.18; N759,731,334.31; N760,620,948.61; N759,695,333.23 and N763,359,423.02 in January, February, March, April, May and June respectively.”

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The report claimed that “with the setting aside of N200 million monthly, the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration has been able to defray arrears of pensions dating back to 1996 up to December 2018 in furtherance of its commitment to the welfare of pensioners.

“The government divided the pensioners into batches 37 to 65 and ensured that the backlog was cleared after physical and documentary verifications. Having completed the payment of outstanding pension arrears, the next steps to be considered in the weeks ahead are harmonisation of pensions, payment of Death Benefits and Gratuity.”

The report further revealed that besides clearing the backlog of pension arrears, an “efficient management process” has been put in place to fast-track the processing and documentation of retiring officers’ entitlements, thus ensuring a seamless migration from salary payroll to pension payroll. This, it noted, has minimised the incidence of accumulation of pension arrears that had been a burden before the inception of this administration.

The report revealed that workers who are eligible to register under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) have the benefit of a Group Life Insurance cover that makes provision for beneficiaries of a contributor in the event of death in active service.

“The sum of N80,713,446.34 was paid as premium for 9,803 Edo State employees in the CPS. With this payment made, the next of kin of deceased employees receives three times their gross annual salary as benefits. From the commencement of the CPS on 1st January 2017 till date, a total sum of N 81,169,724.24 have been paid to families of 34 deceased employees of the State Public Service who were enrollees of the CPS,” it noted.

The report further stated: “The State Government exercised political will and has been committed to the payment of pension arrears, monthly pension, death benefits under the Defined Benefit Scheme and government’s 10 percent matching contribution into the Employees’ RSA in compliance with the provisions of the Edo State Contributory Pension Scheme Law of 2010 as amended.

“The State has made remittances of contributions of both employees (8%) and employer (10%) to the PFAs for 39 months, i.e. from January 2017 to April 2020 which amounts to N5,230,348,954.34. Of this, government’s (employer) matching (10%) contribution is N2,905,749,419.08 only, while that of the employees’ (8%) contribution is N 2,324,599,535.26.

“Also, a Retirement Benefits Bonds Redemption Fund (RBBRF) account has been opened with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This account is being funded monthly to ensure that funds are available to defray the accrued pension rights of employees who have registered for the Contributory Pension Scheme. The RBBRF Account is being funded with five percent of the total monthly wage bill of employees in fulfillment of the provision of the Contributory Pension Scheme Law.”

Native Reporters