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Okowa to spend N37bn on pensioners as Delta approves harmonised rights of pensioners

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State says it will spend a whopping sum of N37 billion to service pensioners from March 2011 to December 2019.

This is coming as the state executive council on Tuesday approved the Harmonized Rights of Pensioners as part of measures to ensure that retirees from Delta Civil Service live comfortably.

Commissioner for Information in the state, Charles Aniagwu, made this known in a post-Exco news briefing in Asaba.

He said, “I am glad to say that the leadership of the organised labour, Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Goodluck Oforbruku and Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Martins Bolum, who were at the Exco are also here to brief you on the issue of pension.”

Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Delta chapter, Goodluck Oforbruku, who spoke to Journalists expressed gratitude to Okowa for being workers-friendly, saying that the governor had earned a position in workers Hall of Fame.

“To address the issue of accrued rights of pensioners, Governor Okowa set up a committee and the committee commenced work as far back as October, 2015.

“At a point, we lost hope and thought the issue will not be dealt with during this administration, but today, the State Executive Council has approved the harmonisation of accrued rights of pensioners in this state.

“In other words, it means that the Delta State government will use the N18,000 minimum wage to calculate the pension entitlement of retirees in the state.

“This means that those who retired as far back as 2011, instead of the N7,500 minimum wage that was used to calculate their entitlement, government has approved that the N18,000 minimum wage be used.

“This approval has been Labour’s cry; that has been our struggle and that is what the state Executive Council just approved today.

“It might interest you to note that the Contributory Pension Law in the state says that when an officer retires, he should go home with at least 50 per cent of his last salary, but, when the N7,500 minimum wage was being used, officers were going home with 15 to 30 per cent of their last salary.

“So, government has approved that we implement what is in the law and it will cost the state government a whopping N37 billion from March, 2011 to December, 2019.

“In addition when the contributory pension started in the state in 2007, N32 billion has been contributed to the scheme so far by the state government,” he disclosed.

Ofobruku added that it was “interesting to know that Senator Okowa’s administration has contributed N22 billion out of the N32 billion within the last four years.

“The government under Okowa has answered our prayers as labour and the implementation that is to take effect immediately will meet the provisions of the law.

“In other words, it means that workers can retire and live a good life and not die of sickness, poverty and hunger any longer.

“We cannot thank the government of Senator Okowa enough; we only pray that God continues to give him and his team wisdom, strength to continue to lead us.

“In view of what the governor has done for workers in the state, the workers have decided to induct him into workers hall of fame on the 1st of May, 2020 which happens to be Workers Day.

“His administration is paying about N1.2 billion to N1.3 billion every month as pensions and as workers, we are thankful for all he has been doing to improve the civil service, workers welfare and wellbeing.

“We pray that God keeps him and rewards him with good health and long life to lead the state to greater heights and pray for his team as well,” he said.

Aniagwu also disclosed that the meeting presided over by Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa approved more than N800 million as compensation for the land that would host Kwale Industrial Park, the streamlining of activities of Ministry of Youths Development, among others.

Aniagwu, who was with his Youths Development counterpart, Ifeanyi Egwuyenga, stated that the council appreciated the people who made their land available for the Park for partnering Okowa’s administration in the speedy development of the state.

“We are aware that to ensure the development of the Kwale Industrial Park, there was a road show in China, investors have started coming and at the Exco meeting today, the people were commended for agreeing to part with their land for development activities to take place.

“Exco approved the sum of N800 million as compensation for the land which measures more than 1,000 hectares and we are confident that the multiplier benefits of having the Kwale Industrial Park is enormous.

“The area is strategically located for investors to have quick returns on their investments,” he said.

Commissioner for Youths, Egwuyenga, in his contribution, stated that Exco approved Rural Youths Skill Acquisition targeted at the illiterate and semi-literate youths in rural communities, adding that the programme would be strictly domiciled in the local governments.

“There will also be community business schools to manage their training which they will attend on a weekly basis to ensure that the youths know how to give back to the society.

“Tertiary Institution Entrepreneurship Programme which is strictly a core entrepreneurship programme designed for the state owned tertiary institutions targets those with business innovation who are having challenges of setting up their businesses.

“Government will give them opportunities to go through incubation period after which government will set them up with viable businesses for them to be employers of labour,” the commissioner said.

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