Gov. Aminu Masari of Katsina State has said that his administration inherited a pension liability of N11.8 billion at the end of June 2015.
Masari said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, adding that the government was making efforts to clear the debt after proper screening and verification of pensioners.
The governor said issues of pension and gratuity were central to his electoral campaign and as such, he was determined to ensure that the problem of pensioners were addressed.
According to him, some retirees have not received their pensions and gratuities for over 10 years.
“When we came in, part of what we promised was to look at the issue of pension and gratuity.
“We have discovered that some people have not collected their gratuity and pension for more than 10 years and some have died on the queue.
“Certainly, when we came in on May 29 this year, we inherited N11.86 billion debt for pension and gratuity.
“We calculated it and as at that time, the figure given to us by the bureaucracy was about N11.8 billion, which we sought a bailout from the Federal Government.
“What we are doing now is the verification; because there is a lot of fraud in pension and gratuity and we want to make sure that those we pay are real pensioners and not ghost pensioners.
“We are very strict in our verification process though we are still encountering some challenges.
“This is because when we started processing for payment, surprisingly, people came up with the figure of N13 billion plus and this is one of the serious challenges we are facing.’’
Masari said the state government had received money from the Federal Government and that the money was in the state account.
He noted that N7.6 billion of the arrears was for local government pensioners.
Masari said the state government did not intend to cut workers’ salaries, but would seek ways of creating jobs for the youth and women by enhancing their capacities.
He said the government recently trained hundreds of youths and women in various vocations and provided them with starter packs to be self-employed.
“We have no intention of cutting anybody’s salary; the issue is not about cutting salary.
“`The issue is about how we make maximum use of the available resources in the state.
“I think what we need to do as a government, is to be open to the people, to tell them how much the government’s income is and how to move the state forward,’’ the governor said.
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