Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Lalong’s government failed to pay deceased Plateau civil servants’ benefits: Families

“I was forced to give a bribe of N40,000 to a government official who promised to fast-track the process, but nothing came out of it.”

• September 13, 2022
Simon Lalong
Governor of Plateau state Simon Lalong [Photo credit: Punch Newspaper]

Families of Plateau civil servants who died on active service have decried the non-payment of death benefits of their loved ones by Governor Simon Lalong’s administration.

Relatives of the deceased Monday in Jos accused Mr Lalong’s government of refusing to heed their pleas for the entitlements.

Timothy Dalyop, one of the affected relatives, said he started processing the benefits of his late brother, Dung Dalyop, 13 years ago.

He explained that his brother died in 2009 after spending 15 years with the Plateau education ministry.

“When he died, the burden of fending for his family fell on me. That task gets tougher every year. The sum of N150,000 was paid to me in August 2021 out of the N1.2 million total amount,” said Mr Dalyop. “I have been pushing for this money in the past 13 years; it was just last year that I got N150,000. I have lost count of the number of times I visited the state pension board, all to no avail. My brother died and left a family for me to fend for, and it has not been easy.”

He stated that he did not know “why the government is playing politics with it. The death benefit is only paid once, unlike pension that one receives on a monthly basis.”

Aisha Ngari, another relative, said her mother, Halimatu Ngari, died as a class teacher at the Islamiya School, Bukuru, in Jos South local government in 2008.

“Since she died, nothing has been paid to us as her death benefits,” she disclosed.

Ms Ngari said she started pushing for her mother’s death benefits 14 years ago but has yet to get anything out of the N2.8 million due to her.

“Because of the dire need for funds for family upkeep, I was forced to give a bribe of N40,000 to a government official who promised to fast-track the process, but nothing came out of it,” Ms Ngari alleged. “In 2009, I was told I have done all that’s needed and should expect payment soon, but this is the 14th year, and nothing has been paid. Some officials of the pension board demanded a N200,000 bribe to enable them to fast-track the payment, and, out of frustration, I took a loan of N40,000 and gave one of them, but as we speak, I have not received any payment.”

John Atsen, another relative, said he grew up at an orphanage after his parents died, with his father, Joseph Atsen, a staff of the education ministry, dying on active duty in 2006.

He explained that he began processing his father’s death benefits totalling N1.2 million in 2017.

“When my father died, we were still young. So, we moved to an orphanage because our mother died earlier. It was in 2017 that I started pushing for the payment of my father’s death benefits but noting positive yet,” revealed Atsen.

Bryan Luka said he had not been able to receive the death benefits accruing to his late father, Luka Musa, who died in 2015. Mr Luka, who decried the agony families of deceased civil servants are passing through, called on the Lalong government to ensure speedy payment of the benefits.

He accused officials of the state pension board of corruption and advised the government to sanitise the system for optimal productivity and effective service delivery.

Reacting to the allegations, Plateau’s information commissioner, Dan Majang, said that the non-payment of the death benefits was not deliberate.

Mr Majang said the problem was inherited from past administrations, adding that the current government had fashioned out modalities to offset outstanding benefits of retired and dead civil service.

“It is not deliberate that we are owing death benefits of some deceased civil servants and gratuities of retirees. This is an inherited problem, but we are doing everything possible to clear these debts based on available resources,” Mr Majang explained. “Payment of pension, gratuities and death benefits remain a priority to this government, and we are not sleeping over it.”

The commissioner further explained that to make the payment seamless, the government signed a pact with United Capital, a private organisation, to offset the backlog.

“We have signed an agreement with United Capital to pay these outstanding benefits while the government will now pay the company at a later time, Mr Majang disclosed. “The matter is before the House of Assembly. Once the assembly okays it, with the consent of the beneficiaries, payment will commence.”

The commissioner called on the beneficiaries to be patient, insisting that Governor Lalong’s government was doing everything possible to pay them.

(NAN)

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