NLC, others lament condition of pensioners
Both President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; the President, Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Dr. Abel Afolayan; the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, Ibrahim Shekarau, on Wednesday called for the review of minimum pension in the country due to the pathetic condition of Nigeria pensioners in Nigeria.
Speaking at the 11th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of NUP, in Abuja, they unanimously resolved to work and if necessary fight for the review of the Pension Act.
Comrade Wabba in his address expressed concerned as many pensioners, especially at the state level were still collecting N2,000 monthly, warning that corruption in Nigeria cannot be wished away in a situation like this.
“That is why the issue of corruption in our system cannot be wished away, people would want to help themselves because they work for many years and when it is time to retired, there would be nothing to rely on for tomorrow.
“As we speak, even the minimum pension that is accommodated in our constitution has not been reviewed. We have a situation in some states, pensioners are collecting N2,000 as monthly pension, even that has not been paid. As we speak in some states, they still treat their pensioners as lepers.”
He cited examples of Imo State where he said more than 40 per cent of the pensioners have not been enrolled, adding, “I am calling on the state governments, including the Federal Government to prioritize the payment of the benefits of pensioners, it is their right, their earnings.”
According to him, payment or non-payment of pension was not about resources but priority, stressing that most of the states that are paying are not those with best resources.
He also cited examples of Borno who released N12 billion for the payment of gratuities up to 2020 and Jigawa State, adding that “we have many states that the liabilities stand at trillions of Naira and the governors were not doing anything about it.”
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige said the Federal Government is mindful of their sacrifice and contributions to Nigeria project.
Dr Ngige acknowledged that the consequential adjustment to pension of Nigerian pensioners since 2019 had been long overdue.
“Distinguished Senior Citizens, Permit me to use this opportunity to inform you that the Federal Government is mindful of your sacrifices and contributions to the Nigerian project and is committed to taking necessary steps to address issues that border on improving your welfare.
“In this regard, my ministry has decided to take the lead on the lingering issue of consequential adjustment to pension of Nigerian pensioners which had been overdue since 2019 when the new Minimum Wage Act was signed into law by Mr. President. In this regard therefore we are hopeful that working with other Agencies of Government, there would be some light at the end of the tunnel.”
Also speaking, the NUP President, Dr. Afolayan said the pensioners would be protesting nationwide over the failure of local government to release the circular and commence implementation of the consequential adjustment.
Besides, he said the government has failed to approved the upward review of pensions following the national minimum wage increase, despite the fact that the report of the joint committee that worked on the review has been submitted since last year to the presidency.
He said the protest will commence on Friday in Abuja to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Senator Shakarau, said it is unacceptable for people to have served for several years and be given less attention, adding that law must be enacted and supported by both executive and legislature at all level to ensure that the rights of pensioners must be respected.