The administration of the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, John Kayode Fayemi has been accused of owing retired public servants over N7.54 billion in gratuities and N3.30 billion as pension arrears.
This was stated in a statement made available to SaharaReporters on Wednesday by Mr Dapo Omotoso, a former Vice-Chairman, Nigeria Union of Pensioners; Ekiti State Council.
He accused Fayemi of deceiving pensioners in the state twice to win the state governorship seat.
Omotoso alleged that retired public servants supported Fayemi’s political mission because of his promise to cater for their welfare as a son of a one-time member of the union.
The statement titled, “Dr. John Kayode Fayemi’s Unfulfilled Promises To Pensioners In Ekiti State,” reads: “When Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, alias “JKF” became the Governor of Ekiti State in October 2010, many pensioners who retired from the Public Service of the State were jubilating that their son would take good care of them by paying their retirement benefits without much delay. Their jubilation was then hinged on the conviction that the Governor’s father, Chief Francis Falade Fayemi of blessed memory, was the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Oye Local Government Area of Ekiti State in his lifetime.
“At the end of Governor Fayemi’s first term in 2014, his administration owed pensioners N7.54bn as gratuities and N3.30bn as pension arrears. Between October 2018 when JFK came back for his second term and the time of his exit from office on 16th October, 2022, several promises which he made on the payment of retirement benefits to pensioners were unfulfilled.
“The immediate past Governor of Ekiti State had stated his biggest regret while in office. The so-called regret was “the refusal of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Ekiti State Chapter to accept a proposal to offset their outstanding payments by a firm that would have collected commission on it. Unfortunately, the pensioners eventually refused the offer and lost a major opportunity.”
The statement further disclosed how Fayemi’s administration conspired with a third-party company, identified as United Capital PLC to make pensioners sign an agreement to forfeit 15% of their arrears.
The statement continued: “On June 18, 2020, a Press Release signed by Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Aare Muyiwa Olumilua, was publicly issued on the Plans of Ekiti State Executive Council to reduce the ‘Backlog of Unpaid Pensions and Gratuities to Retired Public Servants.’ On July 03, 2020, the representatives of the NUP were invited to a meeting with the representatives of Ekiti State Government for briefing on the modalities to pay the outstanding pensions and gratuities in Ekiti State. The meeting started at 2:30 p.m. with goodwill message delivered by the State Head of Service.
“The Special Adviser to the Governor on Investments informed the NUP that the affected pensioners would be paid their outstanding gratuities subject to a forfeiture of 15% per pensioner to United Capital PLC which is the lender. The official of the company explained how United Capital Plc would honour the agreement of the three parties –Ekiti State Government, NUP and United Capital PLC.”
Mr Omotoso added that the pensioners turned down the offer and this made the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accuse the government of planning to exploit the pensioners of N6 billion of their hard-earned money.
“A few days after the tripartite meeting, the State Executive Council of the NUP met the affected pensioners for several days on the modalities of defraying the gratuity arrears by the State Government. At the end of the meetings, the affected pensioners rejected the proposed modalities of Government. When some of the affected pensioners protested against the proposal of the State Government at the NUP Secretariat in the capital city of Ado Ekiti, the opposition political party (PDP) capitalized on the action of the State Government to issue a Press Release which was published in the SAHARA REPORTERS.
“The PDP accused Governor Fayemi of plotting to scam pensioners of N6.0 bn. Thereafter, the State Government cancelled its proposal of getting loan from the capital market. To placate the aggrieved pensioners, the State Government publicly promised that the sum of N100 million would be released monthly for the payment of outstanding gratuities instead of the monthly N10 million hitherto released regularly by the Ayodele Fayose Administration. As usual, the promise of Government was not faithfully implemented.
“As of the time of handing over to his successor on October 16, 2022, Ekiti State Government was owing pensioners who have retired since July 2013 their gratuities in addition to pension arrears of three months to all Civil Service Pensioners and seven months to the Local Government Pensioners comprising Primary School Teachers and Workers of the Local Governments.
“If the billions of Naira owed pensioners in Ekiti State during the eight-year administration of JKF are now paid, the value of the payment would have depreciated astronomically. And this is the greatest wickedness the affected pensioners have to bear for serving their State meritoriously before retirement. JKF has told the public his biggest regret as stated above without regretting his broken promises to pensioners in Ekiti State.
“In a letter dated July 29, 2018, written to the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Ekiti State Council and personally signed by Governor Kayode Fayemi, he said, “It is my pleasure to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for your support and efforts in ensuring our success in the just concluded gubernatorial election which produced me as the Governor-Elect in Ekiti State. I wish to assure you that all we discussed and agreed to before the election shall be implemented when I get to office. As you have all laboured to ensure victory, I wish to assure you that your labour shall not be in vain.”
The statement said on June 14, 2019, Fayemi wrote another letter to the NUP; Ekiti State Council and said, “You can be assured that your welfare will always be of paramount interest to us. As senior citizens, who had meritoriously served Ekiti State in various capacities, you deserve to be treated with dignity and honour by prompt payment of your benefits and entitlements. I have said it on many occasions that, as a son of pensioners, I will always prioritize your interest.”
“What is a promise? According to Merriam -Webster Dictionary, a promise is ‘a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified or a legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim that performance or forbearance of a specified act.’
“Breaking a promise means a broken trust and a broken relationship. It is better for anyone, no matter his position in life, not to make any promise than to make one and break it. It is humanly and spiritually bad if one makes a promise he will eventually fail to fulfill. No wonder why the erstwhile 35th President of the United States, JKF Kennedy of blessed memory, said, “ I would rather be assured of breaking precedents than breaking promises.”
“According to Ashwin Sankar, “Don’t blame others for betraying you! Blame yourself for trusting them more than they deserved.” Similarly, Pensioners in Ekiti State who supported Dr. John Kayode Fayemi as the Governor of Ekiti State to serve for two terms should not blame him for betraying them. Instead, they should blame themselves for trusting him as their son.”
“Of all the elected Governors who governed Ekiti State from 1999 to October 16, 2022, it is only Engr. Olusegun Oni who did not owe pensioners their pensions and gratuities during his brief and epochal period of just three years, four and a half months,” the statement added.
Source: Sahara Reporters.