The Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, has said the biometric verification by his administration has ended corruption in the management of pensions in the state.
The governor, who spoke in Owerri, the state capital, said the biometric capturing of the pensioners revealed fraud in the state’s Pension Management Board.
Ihedioha said he inherited six years pension arrears from his predecessor, Rochas Okorocha, adding that the exercise saved the state hundreds of millions from ghost pensioners.
According to the governor, the state will be spending over N1.2bn monthly on the payment of pensions.
Ihedioha said the delay suffered by pensioners before they started receiving their pensions on Thursday was because the state government was carrying out reforms in the management of pensions in the state.
He said, “It has been my declared commitment to ensure that our senior citizens retire in joyful hope, live in dignity and get the courtesy they deserve. Accordingly, we set up an investigation committee to carry out a comprehensive audit of the pension administration system in the state.
“The main objective of this action was to ascertain the actual number of pensioners in Imo State and to end the corruption and perennial cycle of verifications that have plagued the process over the years.”
The payment of arrears of pensions in the state came barely a week after the governor, at a stakeholders’ meeting on pensions matters at Imo Concorde Hotel, Owerri, announced that payment would commence Friday.
In a broadcast, Ihedioha announced that the state government would be paying N1, 218,175,387 for both state and local government pensioners monthly.
He said, “I would like to appeal to all our citizens that the challenge of payment of pension bills standing over N1.2bn monthly is enormous. This calls for sacrifices by all citizens. We are confronted with the necessity to source for the revenue to ensure a good life for our senior citizens.”
He recalled the challenges his administration faced in handling pensions after years of neglect.
The governor stated, “When we made to resolve the contending issues, we were confronted with conflicting information from various offices in charge of pension administration. Consequently, we could not ascertain the proper position of monthly pension liabilities in the state”.
He said despite the challenges, he was determined to ensure senior citizens in the state enjoyed the fruit of their labour.