The Imo State governor, Sen Hope Uzodinma, has said that his administration has painstakingly streamlined pension payment in the state and stripped it of fraud and manipulation.
He denied that his administration adopted staggered payment of pensions in the state, describing such insinuations ‘as the figment of the imagination of those who want to continue to rip off the hard work of genuine pensioners’.
Speaking after his meeting with the National Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Imo Government House, the governor said what his administration did on assumption of duty was to ease the problem encountered in the face of some fraudulent entries and dubious record-keeping by paying pensioners as they were screened and verified.
He added that the records of pensioners and pension-payment system were fraudulently manipulated to the advantage of pension administrators before his goverment came on board.
The National Union of Pensioners (NUP), led by its national president, Dr Abel Afolayan, had during the visit, disclosed that he received reports about staggered payment of pensions in the state.
According to the governor, “There is no reasonable Nigerian who would not want to support the pensioners, but because of the situation of pensioners I met on ground, it looked like there was delayed cordial relationship which slowed payment of pension allowances. I made them understand that if there is anything I would do to improve the lives of the pensioners in Imo State, I will not hesitate to do that, which is exactly what we have been up to.
“The frauds we unravelled were monumental and no reasonable administration would want to carry them over, hence we decided to painstakingly scrutinise the records and raw data made available to us which enabled our administration to establish the true pensioners in Imo State.”
He said with the measures adopted, Imo State has gotten a near-master script which has resulted in close to 100% clearance of all genuine pensioners in the state, adding that, ‘those owed pensions now are less than 900; soon, all involved will get their allowances’.
“We pledge to continue to do those things which are possible to a pensioner now, which is guaranteed payment of pensioners’ allowances and remittance of their check-off dues. I have since directed the accountant general to create a dedicated account for this purpose to meet the World Bank’s requirement of quarterly publication of financial statements of state governments to qualify for its assistance.” he said.