In a concerning trend across the South West region of Nigeria, Ogun State has emerged as the top debtor in the pension sector, with an astounding N64 billion in unpaid pension and gratuity obligations.
This alarming revelation has sparked discussions about the financial well-being of retirees and the responsibility of state governments in ensuring their post-service stability.
The situation in Ogun State is dire, with Governor Dapo Abiodun having disbursed only N4 billion since assuming office, leaving a staggering N64 billion balance inherited from a total gratuity debt of N68 billion meant for both state and local government retirees.
Bola Lawal, the Secretary of the Nigeria Pensioners Association in Ogun State, asserted that while the present government has maintained current pension payments, the substantial outstanding gratuities are a cause for concern.
Ogun State’s predicament is closely followed by Ondo State, which carries a substantial debt of over N56 billion in unpaid pension and gratuities.
Johnson Osunyemi, Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners in Ondo State, clarified that the arrears affect both local and state government retirees. Local government pensioners have pending arrears dating back to 2011, while state pensioners face similar issues from 2014 onwards.
Osun State takes the third position on this worrisome list, grappling with a pension debt of N50 billion.
Gbenga Oyadare, Chairman of the Osun State Contributory Pensioners, confirmed the staggering debt as of 2022.
Ekiti State is not exempt from this crisis, as the state government owes pensioners an approximate N40 billion in unpaid gratuities and five months of pension arrears.
In Oyo State, pensioners are owed a substantial sum of N36 billion. Segun Abatan, the NUP’s Secretary, revealed that the government’s debt to retirees was N43 billion as of 2008, but Governor Seyi Makinde has made an effort to alleviate this burden by paying N10 billion in compliance with a court directive.
The breakdown of the outstanding amount reveals N3 billion in gratuity for retired primary school teachers and local government pensioners.
Lagos State, with no fewer than 10,000 retired civil servants, carries a debt exceeding N10 billion. In a somewhat brighter note, the state government has disbursed N52 billion to pensioners in the state civil service from 2019 to the present.
The prevailing pension crisis in the South West region calls for urgent attention from both the state governments and relevant authorities to ensure the financial security and well-being of retirees who have dedicated their working years to serving their communities.
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