The registration of a new pension body, Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners’ Association of Nigeria (FEPPAN) in the first quarter of 2019 by Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, is still generation friction among the retirees. Recently, majority of the affected pensioners under the Sectoral Units and Parastatals urged the Federal Government to respect their decision to remain under the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP).
This was contained in a communique signed by the Chairman of all Sectoral Unions and Parastatals, Alex Abu, after a meeting with the NUP national leadership in Abuja. The union, thus directed its members to disassociate themselves from all activities or events linked to FEPPAN The pensioners, who faulted the purported regrouping and registration of some group of pensioners, advised all government agencies in charge of pensions including the Pensions Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) to respect the collective decision and right of freedom of association of parastatal pensioners.
The communiqué read in part: “The meeting frowns at the purported registration of another trade union by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige in contravention of the extant labour laws, and in utter disregard for the interests of all civil and paramilitary pensioners in Nigeria, including all other parastatals.
“This is moreso as the sector has never at any point in time been approached or consulted over the purported regrouping or registration of a new union by any group of persons to carve them out of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners which they are already comfortable with.
“The meeting berates the Minister of Labour and Employment over the purported registration of FEPPAN against the wishes of the majority of members of the parastatals pensioners, and despite the ongoing court cases and several court injunctions against the registration. “The meeting seriously advises all government agencies in charge of pensions, especially PTAD, to respect the collective decision and right of freedom of association of Parastatals pensioners as being currently constituted.
“The meeting further restates and pledges its commitment, support and loyalty to the Nigeria Union of Pensioners as the main Umbrella body of all pensioners groups in Nigeria, including the parastatals.” National President, NUP, Dr. Abel Afolayan, since the onset of agitations for factional pension union, never cease d to state the union’s position.
He urged the pensioners, whom he said desired to congregate under one union, not to allow any force of opposition no matter how strong divide the NUP. According to him, “Despite the resistance from NUP and the outcry by the parastatal pensioners, who have chosen to remain with NUP as obtained in the present dispensation, Mr. Temple Ubani and the Minister of Labour and Employment went ahead in their determination to regroup and register a new union.” Members of FEPPAN are drawn from power, health, education, OPSRI, universities, transportation, aviations and private sectors. According to Ngige, there was need to regroup the NUP to better address the welfare of pensioners in the country, especially those who have not been receiving their pensions due to certain reasons. However, several agitations bordering on the rights of the minister to register a new union arose.
At a valedictory address at the end of his first tenure as Minister of Labour and Employment, Ngige noted that regrouping of the NUP was carried out in consonance with Section 3 of the Trade Union Act, and the Nigeria’s constitution, which allows people to aggregate and form unions or political associations.
“It is a pity that people exit from the public service of the federation and for one and half year after exit, they cannot access their gratuity because the big NUP is unable to assist them. Therefore, we regrouped and approved the registration of Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners Association (FEPPAN), to take care of pensioners in parastatals and private sector. “We have left the old Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) to take care of non-contributory pensioners from the federal ministries in the public service in the interest of retired workers in that category and for the record, I belong to that category. I retired as a deputy director, hospital services in the federal ministry of health. My pensions have not been regular so I definitely see the need for this regrouping,” he said.