…as senior citizens embark on nationwide protest Friday
That’s why corruption can’t be wished away in our system –Wabba
The Federal Government and labour unions have lamented the pathetic condition of pensioners in the country, as some pensioners, especially those at the states, receive as low as N2,000 as pension monthly. 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, all expressed their dismay at the 11th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of the NUP yesterday in Abuja.
They unanimously resolved to work and figure out how to ensure a review of the Pension Act to address the challenges pensioners have been grappling with over the years. The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba who decried the poor attitude of some government towards pensioners, said there was no way corruption in Nigeria could be wished away if some pensioners still collect N2,000 monthly.
He said: “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 retire, 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 where 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.”
Wabba, who cited examples of Imo State where, according to him, more than 40 per cent of the pensioners have not been enrolled, urged the federal and all state governments to prioritize the payment of the benefits of pensioners which, he stressed, was their right and earnings. He added that payment or non-payment of pension was not about resources, but priority. Further citing an example of Jigawa and Borno State where N12 billion was released for the payment of gratuities up to 2020, the labour leader said, “We have many states that the liabilities stand at trillions of naira and the governors were not doing anything about it.”
Minister of Labour and Sen. Chris Ngige who acknowledged that the consequential adjustment to pension of Nigerian pensioners since 2019 had been long overdue, however, noted that the Federal Government was mindful of the sacrifices and contributions of pensioners to the Nigeria project. Ngige said: “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.”
On his part, NUP President, Dr. Abel Afolayan, announced a resolve by the pensioners to embark on a nationwide protest to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation tomorrow in Abuja, over the failure of local government to release the circular and commence implementation of the consequential adjustment.
According to him, government has failed to approve 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. Also speaking, Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, Ibrahim Shekarau, who said giving people who have served for several years less attention, was totally unacceptable, maintained that a law must be enacted and supported by both executive and legislature at all level to ensure the rights of pensioners were respected.
He disclosed that the National Assembly has commenced the process to review the Pension Act, adding that both committees of the National Assembly, the National Pension Commission and other related government agencies would be visiting the states to ensure the letters of the Pension Act were adhered to and obeyed.