Fresh details have emerged on how former governors of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki and AbdulFatah Ahmed left a backlog of unpaid local government gratuities totalling N21bn from 2009 to 2019.
This disclosure was made by Executive Secretary Kwara State Local Government Staff Pension Board, Smaila Oyelowo today in a sitting organised by the Retired Justice Mathew Adewara-led panel of inquiry into the alleged diversion of N300m monthly from local government funds in Kwara State.
According to Oyelowo, “The present administration inherited N21,516,812,33 as backlog of gratuities from 2009.”
Oyelowo said the N30m monthly release for gratuities before May 2019 has now been increased to N100m monthly to gradually defray part of the outstanding debts.
“We approached the (new) state government to jerk up money being released for the payment of gratuities and (that) was expressly granted. Now, on monthly basis, we are receiving N100m to settle gratuities. But because of COVID-19 pandemic, we got N60m in June. In July, this has been raised to N100m again,” he told the panel, saying the board was unaware of any deduction of their money.
“We only prepare vouchers for the payment of pension for the consultant engaged for its payments while we concentrate on the issues of gratuities. The board does the collection of (details of) new pensioners, upgrades the payroll, and forwards to the consultant for payment.”
The Executive Secretary advocated the adoption of contributory pension scheme as a solution to the issue of backlog.
Meanwhile, the Directors of Personnel Management from the five local government areas (Kwara North) testified before the Retired Justice Adewara-led panel, describing the alleged diversion of N300m monthly from local government funds as baseless and unfounded.
They all noted that nothing of such occurred as the panel interrogated the witnesses in respect of payrolls, bank accounts, bank statements, statutory allocation papers, schedules of local government internally generated revenues, and cash books.