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System Analyst June 10, 2024

Welfare: What the numbers tell us about Adeleke

By Sarafa Ibrahim

For sometimes now, the main opposition political party in Osun state, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has struggled really hard to downplay the superlative commitment of the Governor Ademola Adeleke administration to the welfare of the people, particularly, those of active workers and pensioners. But facts, according to a former American President, John Adams “are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

That was what played out in Osun state on Friday when Governor Ademola Adeleke presented bonds to pensioners’ in the state. Looking at the N4,009,358,431.00 which is the total sum of the bonds presented to retirees in the states and local governments level by Governor Adeleke, one will be marveled as it is unprecedented. But that was actually not the gist of the moment.

The real gist was the disclosure by the Governor that his administration has so far released the sum of N12,719,245,528.00 as bonds to pensioners in the state. This is mind-blowing, especially when you consider that Governor Adeleke is barely two years in office. It becomes even more spectacular when the figure is put side-by-side his two predecessors, who were only able to release N11,150,871,889.00 within a period of twelve years in office.

I can only imagine what will be going through the minds of a lot of people when the numbers were let out. The numbers are too crazy to even compare, but what they actually tells us is the extent of the commitment of Governor Adeleke to the welfare of senior citizens. Because nothing else can convincingly explains how Governor Adeleke could surpass the records of his two predecessors on the amount of bonds released less than two years in office against their combined time of twelve-year.

Make no mistake, the feat didn’t just happen. It was yet a manifestation of Governor Adeleke willingness to make the pains of the past go away by getting pensioners their due entitlements. It is not without sacrifices and Governor Adeleke made this known in his speech at the bond presentation ceremony that “we achieve the above uncommon feat by thinking outside the box and by personal sacrifices among my team.”

From the time he assumed office, Governor Adeleke has maintained a friendly disposition to the welfare of pensioners in Osun state. The past was an experience no one will want to continue going by the pains and anguish that pensioners endured in the quest of getting what belongs to them. At a point, the sight of pensioners pouring onto streets to demand for their benefits was recurring, but those at the helm at that time pay no seriousness to resolving it.

But now, the scenario has changed as the welfare of pensioners has seen significant improvements. It is not just bonds that Governor Adeleke is releasing to pensioners, his administration has between December 2022 and now, paid a total of N4.3billion as gratuities to senior citizens.

By the way, the lost hope of pensioners on their owed salaries was rekindled by Governor Adeleke. While his predecessor make excuses to dodge responsibility on the 30-month half salary owed to workers, Governor Adeleke devised a template to clear off the debt. In the case of pensioners, particularly those who are yet to receive bonds, Governor Adeleke structured their payment monthly to put money in their hands as against the experience of the past.

To cap it all, Governor Adeleke enrolled the entire retirees in Osun state on healthcare coverage. What that implies was that pensioners in the state will no longer have to worry about the cost of managing their health. And the good thing about this arrangement is that every cost of treatments received by pensioners at designated healthcare providers in Osun state or outside it will be borne by the Adeleke administration.

It was unprecedented, and expectedly, underscored Governor Adeleke’s commitment to the healthy living of pensioners. Of course, something like this has never happened in Osun state before, and in fact, the state is the first and only sub-national in Nigeria that provide such a comprehensive healthcare coverage for senior citizens.

The impact of the Governor’s gesture was conveyed by the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Osun state chapter, Pa Salau Ganiyu, at a ceremony to launch the scheme last year. The octogenarian who was apparently moved by Governor Adeleke’s interest in the well-being of retirees, said the healthcare coverage for pensioners is a necessity that far outweighs the value of money. “This very program, particularly enrollment into OHIS, we appreciate it more than giving us money. It will save a lot of our members from untimely deaths,” he noted.

And he was damn right. At the age of most of the retirees, it is expected that their years of service will have weighed on their health, leaving them with one form of health challenge or the other to contend with. Managing these health challenges usually comes at a huge cost to pensioners, with many finding it extremely hard to handle. It is this prevailing reality that often leads to untimely death, and in some cases, makes pensioners go through avoidable pains.

It is an experience that no one should be allowed to go through, not to talk of people who gave their most active years to the service of the state. This was an experience that Governor Adeleke is not prepared to let continue as the enrollment of pensioners on the health insurance scheme will ensure that they can enjoy access to quality healthcare without hindrance. The plan will allow retirees who are already stretched due to their low income to be able to get needed medical help and avert untimely deaths among them as was the case before enrollment.

To put it in proper perspective, the healthcare plan for pensioners in Osun will save lives. Before the healthcare coverage enrollment, pensioners were faced with a serious trouble of funding their healthcare bills. This made them vulnerable and put them under a lot of pressure, which makes retirement a tough experience for many of them.

In short, Governor Adeleke has done exceedingly well in terms of the welfare of pensioners and the numbers showed this clearly. If less than two years in office, Governor Adeleke could beat the record of two predecessors in the release of bonds to pensioners among other welfare issues, then it is safe to imagine the many great benefits that lurks for senior citizens by the time he completes his first four years in office, and even more, the second four years.

▪︎ Sarafa Ibrahim is a Special Assistant to the Osun State Governor and writes from Iwo, Osun state.

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