N40billion Credit Facility: Joy at last for local govt pensioners in Delta.
By Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe Esq
The economic hardship suffered by local government pensioners in Delta State, cannot be overemphasized, occasioned by the inability of the third tier of government to meet their obligations in years past.
It has been confirmed that a whopping sum of N51billion (Fifty One Billion Naira) Is owed retired local government workers by twenty five Local Government Councils in the state since 2016.
The state government under the leadership of immediate past governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, assisted in no small measure to reduce the huge arrears. He also discussed extensively with the Delta State chapter of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, on how to defray the outstanding N51 billion.
And during his state wide electioneering campaigns tour as governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the incumbent governor, Elder Sheriff Francis Oborevwori, assured pensioners in the state that if elected, his administration will do whatever it takes to ensure that backlog of pensions were paid, considering the severe economic hardship in the country occasioned by the misrule of the APC national government.
At a recent meeting with Delta ALGON, government reached a consensus agreement with the body, and it was further agreed that a N40billion credit facility be obtained from Zenith Bank PLC, to settle a substantial part of pensions arrears, with a proviso that each local government will have to voluntarily without duress sign legal documents, as well as an irrevocable undertaking that its part of the credit facility should be deducted installmentally at source from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, share of monthly allocations at a reasonable interest rate to Zenith bank.
It is therefore crystal clear that the N40billion credit facility approved by the State House of Assembly under the able leadership of Rt Hon Emomotimi Dennis Guwor, shall be repaid by the beneficiary local governments within a period of time from their share of FAAC monthly allocations, not a debt directly affecting the Delta State Treasury, and not a loan to be repaid by the state government as a section of the media wrongly alleged.
It must be stated that local government pensions has noting to do with the state government treasury, it’s under the Local Government Staff Pension Bureau, making it the sole responsibility of the third tier of government, while the state government is responsible for the payment of pension of retired State Civil Servants. In the same vein, the federal government pays pension of retired federal civil servants, in that order.
This clarification is necessary to set the records straight, so that a section of the media loyal to the main opposition party in the state will not feed the public and gullible minds with black propaganda and falsehood.
The N40billion is not another loan by the state government for her use, rather it is a credit facility which local governments in the state will have to defray overtime from their monthly FAAC share of allocations to the state.
The immediate past governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa laid the solid foundation for the credit facility and he deserves commendation, while governor Oborevwori must also be appreciated for his political willpower to ensure that the economic hardship faced by local government pensioners is addressed headlong and resolved with minimum delay, going forward under the universal principle of continuity in government.
The idea of the M.O.R.E agenda is to make life easy, meaningful and enjoyable for all Deltans, which is why pensioners in the state who served meritoriously for many years before retirement must now smile and enjoy the fruit of their labour while alive.
Payment of backlog of pensions does not require any element of politics and all well meaning Deltans must encourage government to do whatever it takes to make pensioners happy. This is the way to go.
The media must play a leading role to encourage government and the governor in this regard, and not to criticize the genuine efforts and process already put in place to defray pension arrears of local government retirees.
Governor Oborevwori will keep breaking barriers of all shapes and sizes for the good of all Deltans, and in Advancing Delta in all ramifications through the potent instrumentality of the M.O.R.E socioeconomic blueprint.