RETIREES in the Southwest geopolitical zone under the auspices of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) yesterday threatened to institute legal action against the 36 state governors over their failure to pay accumulated arrears of gratuities and pension.
The pensioners vowed that they would institute the case in the next two months in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to determine if it was lawful or not to owe them their entitlements.
NUP Southwest Zonal Chairman Chief Ayo Kumapayi and its secretary, Olusegun Abatan, handed down the threat while speaking with reporters at the end of their zonal meeting in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Abatan said the legal action became necessary in view of the rising cases of sick and dead pensioners as a result of unpaid entitlements by Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun and Ondo states as well as other parts of the country.
Kumapayi, who was supported by the Ondo State NUP Chairman, Chief Raphael Adetuwo and other chairmen and secretaries from the six states, blamed failure of the state governors to pay their gratuities and pension regularly on “reckless spending on humongous salaries and allowances of political office holders”.
He said: “Humongous salaries and allowances of public office holders, especially senators and House Representatives members who take home N13million and N14million monthly need to be reviewed. How can those people will be collecting such huge money in a country where 80 per cent are battling to meet daily meal.”
The NUP zonal leaders also demanded the review of law setting up the Revenue Mobilisations, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to empower it to place all the political office holders, including the President, governors, ministers, Federal and state lawmakers on the same salary scale with civil servants from Grade Level18 to Grade Level 25 .
The step, the pensioners said, would save the country’s economy from collapsing and enable government to have more money to take care of the needs of the less-privileged Nigerians, who are wallowing in abject poverty and deprivation.
They said: “President Buhari should use his second term in office to do something about such take home by our federal lawmakers. They should be placed on same salary scale with the civil servants to reduce pressure on the nation’s economy.
“Let the President be on GL 25, Vice President will be on GL 24, governors on GL 23 downward like that. This will save our nation from reckless and killing due to non-payment of salaries and allowances.”
The Southwest NUP hailed Buhari for huge step taken recently to grant local government financial autonomy, saying the decision would prevent many state governors from spending local governments’ funds “as a pocket money”.
Also speaking, the NUP National Deputy General Secretary, Chief Joseph Okunade, said the national leadership of the pensioners was in full support of the legal action against the state governors.