Imo State government, on Wednesday, said it has saved N300 million pensioners funds by sacking the consultant contracted by the short-lived administration of Chief Emeka Ihedioha.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, made this known in Owerri, adding that government was able to save the amount after it weeded out fraudulent activities in the pension payment system.
According to him, Governor Hope Uzodinma has announced immediate payment of pension for the month of March.
He said: “Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma, has directed that all pensioners in the state be immediately paid their March pension allowances but warned that his government will insist on paying salaries and pensions only to those legitimately entitled to it and not to ghost workers or pensioners.
“This was just as the leadership of the pensioners revealed that the use of consultants by the sacked administration of Emeka Ihedioha was a conduit pipe for fraud and corruption.
“The governor’s directive came on Tuesday after a closed-door meeting with the leadership of the pensioners association in the state.
“The government has saved over N300 million in pension payments through detailed scrutiny of the payroll, which exposed a lot of leakages and ghost recipients in the system.”
According to Emelumba, “the chairman of the state association of pensioners, Dr. Josiah Ugochukwu, agreed with the governor that the use of a consultant for pension payments by the sacked administration of Ihedioha was a conduit pipe for fraud.
“He said his association opposed it but the then government paid deaf ears. The government discovered that the use of a consultant was a ploy to defraud the state by opening avenues for questionable payments of over half a billion Naira to an external consultant who by law cannot be audited by the state Auditor-General. There was practically no role for a consultant in payment of pensions.
“The governor sees pension money as blood money because it is money saved from the sweat of elder statesmen who sacrificed their youth to serve the state so he is determined to ensure that only those entitled to Pensions get paid.”