An Open Letter to Governor Ganduje and Others

September 21, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

GN photo

 

By

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

 

 

Your Excellency, I know this letter will reach you at the very time when the politics of our country, especially that of Kano State, is overheating and concurrently the country is safely wrenching free from the mighty grips of recession. To say your administration is painstakingly doing all it can to reposition the state is an understatement; but at least facts, they say, speak for themselves.

 

Permit me, sir, to start by congratulating you on the nomination form and statement of interest for different associations under the aegis of One-2-10 Association purchased and gifted to you in recognition of the myriad of people-centered projects your administration has brought to Kano State. It is an honour well deserved.

 

Sir, in the course of writing this letter to your humble self, a friend asked what convictions I have that this letter will be warmly welcomed. I told him that I have some convictions that the letter will be welcomed and the request herein be granted.

 

First, I have seen how Kano State is glossily coloured with infrastructural projects to the envy of some elements who initially erroneously held the view that Gov. Ganduje could not deliver, but who are now biting their fingers in anguish. From the revival of the Triumph Newspaper to the multi-billion Naira Giginyu Hospital, named after President Buhari; from the Zoo Road Pediatric Hospital to the longest flyover in northern Nigeria; from the boosting of farming activities in the state to other countless people-centered projects, the Ganguje administration is really making giant strides.

 

Two, sir, you served at different capacities as a civil servant. Your zeal to serve this State is what has taken you to this very exalted seat of Kano State governorship. In fact, more than almost everyone, you know how it felt to serve, having dedicated your life to public service and now you are at the helm of the affairs of the state.

 

Third, despite the economic recession in the country, dwindling revenue and high wage bill, Kano State owes no worker salaries, while many states owe their workers four to seven months of salary. I have just learnt Kano State pays the “sum of N9.2 billion as wages to 151,000 workforces in the State;” it is a commendable achievement, indeed.

 

Sir, last week, I read a statement the Federal Ministry of Finance released through its director of information, Hassan Dodo, in which the ministry gave the thirty-six states of the federation conditions on assessing funds from the $2.689 Paris Club refund approved for the thirty-six states of the federation.

 

The report threatens to shut out states that have refused to settle backlog of salaries and pension liabilities from the latest round of releases, as reported by many media houses.

 

Sir, there is no doubt your administration inherited outstanding pensioners’ files waiting to be paid their terminal benefits. While deductions were being effected from the civil servants’ salaries no remittance was being made by the Ministry of Finance then, as the Executive Chairman Pension Fund Trustees, Sani Dawaki made public.

 

Sir, to quote Ado Minjibir, the Kano National Labour Congress Chairman, “Malam Ibrahim Shekarau Administration did not pay the contributory pension of eight percent from workers and 15 percent from the state government in line with Kano State pension and gratuity law of 2006, which amount to N3.6 billion. The Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso administration did not remit N18.9 billion”. Although your administration has started liquidating it, still the backlog stands at N13 billion.

 

Sir, what has prompted the writing of this open letter to you is the travails of pensioners. Their situation is nothing to write home about. The peace and security they dreamt of after their retirement have become a nightmare. They are only left with Hobson’s choice: take what is available or get nothing.

 

There is no doubt Kano State is doing pretty good in handling this case compared to many other states that are jeopardizing their workers’ lives by putting them on either half pay or owing them four to seven months salary, let alone settle pension arrears.

 

For example, Osun State, Nasarawa State, Kogi State, Ekiti State and Benue State top the list of states owing their workers salaries, as reported by the Daily Trust sometime in February this year.

 

Fortunately, the Osun State Government has released N19.8 billion for the settlement of salary and pension arrears it owed all categories of workers in the state, a moment after a warning strike to protest salaries owed for 17 months and 34 months’ pension arrears was staged. This is a state that was moving at relatively snail’s pace.

 

As you know, sir, retirement is a period workers should look forward to with hope and security; but it has turned out to be the opposite for many workers. Many of them have given their best to their state. But they are yet to taste the fruits of their labour.

 

I was reduced to tears when two elderly pensioners narrated their painful ordeals to me. Despite the faithful services they rendered to their state, they have been waiting for their benefits. For how long will they keep waiting? They have no answer to this question.

 

First pensioner, “I retired on 15 April, 2017. I have not yet received my entitlements. Look edema (abnormal accumulation of fluid in the interstitium) has eaten up my legs. Can’t you see the way I walk with difficulty?

 

“I have seven children. You can imagine how difficult, if not impossible, it is for me to settle their medical bills, school fees, feed them and pay the rent.

 

“Many of those pensioners retired before me and they have not received their entitlements either. My friend’s wife who died a year ago could not receive her entitlements.

 

“I have a strong believe in the Abdullahi Umar Ganduje Administration. At least we received our monthly pension and we pray he will turn to us. It is high time we are paid. This is our last hope.”

 

The second pensioner said, “I retired in June, 2016. It only took me three months before I started receiving my monthly pension. I have no problem with that. I get it every month at the right time. Since then I have been waiting for my gratuity. I really need it to chart a new career path at the eventide of my life.

 

“My son had since graduated from Sa’adatu Rimi College of Education. I want him to further his education; but the truth is I cannot sponsor him. Public service has worn me out. I always ponder on their future. Without education they are no more.

 

“Look at this house I inherited it from my father. Does it not need renovation? Look at the cracked walls. They will not hold any longer.”

 

Sir, I know how it felt to be a victim. My father was an ex-worker of the defunct Nigeria Airways. He waited, waited and waited until he could wait no more. The asthma he fetched from the work had subdued him. His friends are still waiting; but strangely most of them are on crutches. Others are walking-dead.

 

I never thought I would inherit something called waiting. But now, ironically, here I am, a full-blooded waiter of my father’s due. You can imagine how it has affected our lives (his children) in many ways.

 

Sir, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau faced almost the same problem. But within a very limited time he settled almost all the outstanding pensioners’ entitlements as he had promised during his electioneering campaign. He had to be awarded an “award of excellence” by the National Pensions Union (NUP) for his great humanitarian service.

 

There is a suspicion, sir, that the delay to pay these pensioners their dues is opening a floodgate of corruption. Reports have it that some government officials are using the opportunity to extort money from the hapless pensioners to help them get their entitlements. True or not, there is no smoke, they say, without fire.

 

I appeal to the Kano State Governor and his other counterparts in the federation whose states workers and retired ones are patiently waiting to be paid their backlog of salary and pension to listen to these innocent Nigerians. My pleas, sir, and that of thousands of law abiding citizens, is that these hapless pensioners be paid their entitlements. These are pleas made in good faith and I hope it will be granted.

 

 

 

 

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid, Kano based, is graduate of B.A English from Bayero University, Kano. He is a budding writer, social analyst, freelancer at Sunrise Language Practitioner (SLP) and regular contributor to Nigerian dailies. 
His writings have appeared in The Communicator, a magazine published by Kano State Polytechnic and in Dailytrust, The Triumph and The cable newspapers. He has a strong interest in literary theory.

Editor review

1 Comment

  1. Bert Cisneros September 23, at 01:00

    Abdulyasser, I commend you on your fine writing and your sentiments for the people who were not paid their due monies by the state. The world needs conscientious young men like yourself who have the intellect and sentiments for maligned people. I wish you the very best in the evolution of your intellect and your generosity of heart.

    Reply

Leave a Reply