Although the Akwa Ibom government has paid gratuity to 306 public servants comprising civil servants from ministries, parastatals, agencies and commissions as well as teaching and non-teaching staff of public secondary schools who retired in 2015, many of them are still groaning over delay in payment of their benefits.
The then Godswill Akpabio administration paid gratuity to retired public servants up to August 2015 while the Governor Udom Emmanuel's administration has so far paid five months of gratuity (July, September, October, November and December 2015) to the retirees.
However, some public servants who retired in 2015 without doing documentation (no white and blue papers) then before the present payment and many who left from January 2016 till October 2018 with valid retirement papers- white and blue papers- have not yet been paid their gratuity put at about N11 billion.
In a statement in Uyo, Mr. Uwem Andrew- Essien, the Accountant General of Akwa Ibom State had said Udom had approved release of the money.
“With the completion of the payment of 2015 gratuity, the State Government has commenced the compilation of names of civil servants who retired in 2016, saying payment is done in batches in view of the huge amount involved,'' Essien said.
He said as a responsible government committed to the well-being of her citizenry, all entitlements to civil servants both serving and retired would continue to remain a priority of the Governor Udom Emmanuel led administration.
“Within the year, government has equally paid staff salary arrears to 1, 227 workers, pension arrears to 4,304 pensioners as well as 2015 employment arrears to 2, 249 civil servants,'' the Accountant-General stated.
He, therefore, appealed to workers to reciprocate Government's kind gesture by showing commitment to their assigned official duties.
Though the names of the benefiting retirees are not published except their retirement numbers and figures were not stated, a senior staff in the Office of the state Accountant-General said about N1.5 billion was released for payment of the December 2015 gratuity to the retirees.
TNN learnt that the payment might have been prompted by a condition given by Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja for Governor Emmanuel administration to fulfil certain conditions including payment of gratuity to the retired public servants and arrears of salary to serving public servants before the fourth tranche of Paris Club Refunds which is about N30 billion could be released to him.
A senior staff of the office disclosed that N11 billion could clear the backlog of gratuity accrued to the retired public servants in the state, wondering why the state governor did not clear even after collecting three tranches of Paris Club Refunds.
It was learnt that on assumption of office, Udom paid five months of gratuity to retired teachers and staff of public primary schools in the state, covering August to December 2010.
It was further learnt that from January 2011 till date, the teachers and other ancillary staffers of the primary schools under State Basic Education Board (SUBEB) have not yet been paid.
A source confided in us that “for staffers of the Akwa Ibom State Local Government Service Commission, their condition is precarious in that the then Local government chairmen mismanaged gratuity in that the money given to them through Joint State/Local Government Account was not remitted to the purse of Local Government Pensions Board in the Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat, Uyo.”