• governor not a pay clerk

-as mixed reaction trails govt claims 

The Chairman of retired Permanent Secretaries in Imo State, a financial expert and a retired Permanent Secretary, Comrade Fabian I. Agba, has said it loud and clear by admonishing the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, to stop further involving himself especially in the meddlesomeness with the payment of pensions to retired Imo workers and allow the office of the Accountant General and it’s ancillaries to carry out their constitutional duties, after which they can be audited.

Speaking to our reporter on an exclusive interview on the present imbroglio over pension payments and the recent three (3) peaceful protests by retired workers of Imo State, civil and public servants, etc, Comrade Agba who stated that as a person, the government is owing him only one (1) month, arguing that the arrears vary from person to person. He wondered why the office of the Accountant General appointed by the Governor cannot explain issues bothering on disparity or the lopsided payment of pensions, instead of the flimsy excuses that “he pays anyone the Governor tells him to pay”.

He asked “is the Governor the paymaster?”.He reiterated that there is a department in the office of the Accountant General, legally and duly authorized to pay retired workers their respective monthly pensions or gratuity through the banks or the sub-treasuries in the LGAs instead of payment to whichever the individual he chooses and this has been so over the years before Rochas Okorocha came up with confusion which the present administration is adopting, as if Okorocha is their professor or mentor on pension matters.

He challenged the Imo State government to give clear record of the purported or alleged fraudsters found to have been siphoning pensioners fund. He also urged the Governor to prosecute the culprits for the people to defend themselves and for the public to know the truth.

Comrade Agba was in doubt if any reasonable, responsible civil servant would involve himself/herself in such scandalous scam or crime and cited the case of one Uba Osigwe, whose name appeared in the purported list and who has not received any such money, adding that, no person like Mrs Ijeoma Eronini, who has not been paid anything since last year, can claim of being paid while a person like Permanent Secretary Aharanwa even came out to make claims of what government is not owing him.

He pleaded with the Governor to assign to the appropriate authorities their jobs specifications professionally and effectively, thereafter they can be properly audited to find their mistakes or anomalies.

Mr Agba further argued that, it is the duty of the State Accountant General to admit or entertain various complaints of the retired elder statesmen and treat them promptly and appropriately.

Answering a question as to how much or how many months of arrears of pensions are being owed by the state government to the protesting pensioners, Agba said, it is not uncommon as payment is ongoing, adding that even as at now, very few persons are yet to be captured. “For all I know, Governor Uzodinma is owing nobody but Imo state government is categorically owing Imo pensioners various sums of money, ranging from two (2) months to about 40 months. For instance, a worker who retired just last month cannot lay claims to any arrears but what of persons who left the service 2012 to 2015”, he averred.

The elder statesmen advised the government who claim to be looking for the so-called ghost pensioners to go back to the former system of paying pensioners through their nearest sub-treasuries or the banks for those who are still earning so high, amounts of money.

In another development, some of the pensioners whose names were exposed as fraudulent or are involved in pension fraud, have issued a statement denying the government’s claim, describing same as mere blackmail to tarnish the image of innocent pensioners and a ploy to deny them of their statutory entitlements on retirement.

The state government had the pensions quarters earlier stated that one Mr. Ajokubi Herbert A, among seven others that were involved in the Pension Fraud to the tune of 330 Million Naira annually. 

However, the picture accompanying the post was that of Mr. Herbert Ahaotu Ajokubi, a pensioner who hails from Ogbaku in Mbaitoli LGA of Imo State. 

Mr. Herbert Ahaotu Ajokubi had retired as a Secondary School Principal from Secondary Education Management Board in 2008 at GL 15. His monthly pension since retirement is not in excess of 60 thousand Naira and has only received that of January and February 2020, since the inception of this government. 

He also attached the statements of accounts from all bank accounts linked to his BVN showing clearly that at no time was any money either from the State Government or any individual for that matter, to the tune of five (5) Million Naira ever entered his account. 

It was believed that the malicious trajectory orchestrated by the Hope Uzodinma’s led government to tarnish the image of this aged pensioner is indeed a dangerous one, that must be condemned by all Imolites.