Obaseki okays N1.2bn payment for ex-staff of defunct state Colleges of Agric

…Commences screening for pension, other benefits

The Edo State Government has commenced the screening of over 326 ex-staff of the former Edo State Colleges of Agriculture in Iguoriakhi and Agenebode.

Addressing journalists in Benin City, the Permanent Secretary/Chairman of Edo State Pensions Bureau, Wellington Abbe, said  Governor Godwin Obaseki approved the payment of the ex-staff following the restructuring exercise that was carried out in these institutions.

“You will recall that in 2018, the State Government commenced a restructuring exercise. It made obligations to the people and carried out a massive reorganisation at the Colleges of Agriculture in Iguoriakhi and Agenebde. The reorganisation affected about 326 workers.

“Following the restructuring, the 326 staff were disengaged. This created a lot of agitations on the part of the relieved staff.

“Recently Governor Obaseki approved the payment for all the 326 disengaged staff of their pension entitlements. That is exactly what we are doing now and in doing that, what that this means is that 326 ex-staff will now be paid entitlements based on the numbers of years each one of them put in service.

“In all organisations or workplaces there are usually extant rules that guide procedures on what happens when such reorganisation takes place.”

“In the case of these two Colleges of Agriculture, we took into cognizance those officers who have put in ten years and above, whom the extant rule approved payment of five years unblock payment of their pension in addition to the gratuity for those who have put in 10 years and above of service.

“For those who have put in ten years to five years, or five years and nine years and eleven months are entitled to just payment of five years and no gratuity. Of course, all these are guided by the rules,” he added.

The Permanent Secretary noted, “The reorganization created a lot of litigations on the part of those that were affected. The governor has now created this avenue for both parties to sit down and carry out final resolution of this problem.”

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Abbe further explained, “What we are doing today is the final lap of what we needed to do so as to finally settle these 326 workers. This is so that they can move on with their lives.

“As you know, the restructured College of Agriculture has finally taken off fully arising from that reorganisation. After this process to confirm the names and entitlements the College gave to us, we need to do our verification on our own side and that is exactly what we are doing.

“This week, we will be taking those disengaged staff of Iguoraikhi, while next week we will be taking those of Agenebode in order not to create too much crowd around. We are happy the matter has finally been settled. All parties are happy.”

On the fate of former Staff of the former College of Education, Ekiadolor, he added, “Iguoraikhi reorganization took place in 2018, while Ekiadolor happened thereafter.

“We cannot just take both at the same time. We are taking Iguoraikhi and Agenebode. The moment we are done with this, we will commence that of Ekiadolor. Iguoraikhi is 300 while Agenebode is 26.”

According to him, “The total amount involved is about 1.2 billion naira and that is the approval His Excellency gave. We intend to start making this payment in four trenches. This is the first part of the payment. Before the year runs out, we will do the second batch, then early next year, we take the third, and of course the fourth.

“Like I always say, the financial implications are huge and based on the present economic realities, the government cannot just doll out the funds at once. There are other areas begging for attention. We need to split it.”

An ex-staff of the institution, Paul Ogbebor, commended Governor Obaseki for keeping to his promise, noting that the payment will bring relief to the former workers.

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