The Pains And Gains Of Danburra: A struggle for Kebbi retirees

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From Haruna Usman,Birnin Kebbi

Legally speaking gratuities are birth rights of retired civil servants both at the Federal, State and Local government levels.

One is qualified for gratuities after he or she attains 35 years in active service or clocks 60 years of age while still in service.

Payment of pensions and gratuities dates back to the colonial masters, the intent being to assist the retired officer to have a peaceful life after retirement having holistically and diligently served his state.

Over the years, retired civil servants get paid in full while their pensions flow till they die. Despite the intermittent truncation of democratic systems globally the practice of full gratuities payment sustains.

WHAT IGNITED THE DANBURRA STRUGGLES

Let me do justice to the past Saidu Nasamu led government in Kebbi State.

His first tenure as governor was all smiles for Kebbi retirees as he paid in full all their gratuities and their pensions without hindrance. Late into his second tenure the tune of the music changed surprisingly but in his defence, he claimed sharp practices from the pension houses in the state whom he claimed had added ghost retirees. As a result, he resorted to instalment payments, that also necessitated the formation of a standing committee saddled with the responsibility of screening of retirees and their subsequent payments.

The committee was headed by a former Accountant General, a known man of integrity Muhammad Kwaido.

 The Kwaido committee transcended to the Bagudu government when the PDP government left the stage in 2015. At the early stage of the Buhari/Bagudu government, the president invited governors with liabilities of salaries and gratuities to come forward for a bail out to settle accrued debts. Senator Bagudu was among the governors who visited the Aso villa with a N5bn bailout demand to settle Kebbi retirees but was in the end given N7bn to fully settle the backload of gratuities.

That was the beginning of the cold fight between the Bagudu government and the head of Kebbi retirees pressure group Alhaji Babangida Garba Gwandu(Danburran Gwandu). They wondered why Bagudu will refuse to settle all debts after collecting N7bn. They wrote severally to the government but couldn’t get him to heed to their calls. To press him to pay, they mobilized their members to the Eid praying ground to seek God’s intervention.

Their efforts paid off as in 2016, the governor approved the sum of N2bn naira for partial payments of gratuities. Dissatisfied with the amount, the pressure group continued ignoring threats and calls to discontinue the struggles until lately Bagudu released N3bn again for partial payments of gratuities.

According to Danburra, late last year, he was waylaid by some unknown men who attempted to take him away with a motorcycle but escaped when both of them fell in a heavy sand and he ran through stacks and darkness of the bush.

In his submission he said at least 50 retirees have died waiting for their gratuities in Kebbi, he said the crusade will fearlessly continue until all retired civil servants are paid by the government.

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