From Francis Nansak,Lafia
The Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice , Nasarawa state, Dr Abdulkarim A. Kana, last week took a swipe on the case filed against the state government by some group of pensioners ,saying the position taken by the group was against the initial agreement between the government and the pensioners.
He said government was not mindless over the accumulated debts owed the pensioners which before they approached the court, they wrote to government and the state government in her wisdom replied them that it was working towards payment of their entitlements.
Dr Abdulkarim revealed that the accumulated debt was so much that even if the government decided to pay, it will not be erased in ten years with the annual budget and the statutory requirements for pensions.
According to him,” We informed them of the accumulated gratuity, but government will find a way of paying it in instalment to continue to service it.
“Yet they were not satisfied and went to court, so government dusted the files of those that went to court , to begin treating it and for that reason six months down the line pensions were not paid. This was during the immediate government of Al-Makura ,but before he left office, he paid half.
“And immediately the new government of Engineer Abdullahi sule came on board, he said it is not fair seeing government doing a case with pensioners, that they are our parents, therefore we should settle the matter out of court.
“This was one of the first assignments given to me when I became the state attorney general under the administration of Engineer Sule, and we sat and resolved that we will find way of paying them N180 million monthly.
“Remember that this not pensions but servicing outstanding gratuity. Then comes this issue on local government autonomy ,which government and government said it won’t be bearing the burden alone ,meanwhile in the overall accumulations only 10 billion was for state and the remaining 30 billion was that of local government,” Dr Kana said.
He however posited that at this instance, the local government was brought in and MoU was reached that will enabled the settlement out of court with the pensioners and later filed in court supposedly to end the case.
The commissioner at this point stated that having reach the agreement, the case was taken out of court, with the target for the commencement of their payments at the month of February, but again it was at that time that local government subventions started dropping to a point where some LGAs could not even pay salaries successfully to their workers.
But he said state government gave the #50million and the local government councils were nowhere forthcoming on the agreement for each of them paying N10million, which when put together from the 13 LGAs of the state,will total N130million ,plus the state government offer of #50 million that will make up the #180 million to be used for servicing the debts.
The commissioner however expressed optimism that by Wednesday there is likely going to be light at the end of the tunnel if the court in it wisdom seat and take the case out of court and defreeze the state account which as a result of the case filed by the 601 pensioners, which consequent negatively affected the state.