PENSIONERS under the aegis of League of Federal Public Service Contributory Pension Retirees, on Thursday, came hard on Federal Government over non-payment of about N150 billion accrued pension, lamenting that the government has no respect for the elder statesmen.
The pensioners, who therefore, issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government to pay off all the outstanding dues, then threatened to bring their mattresses and temporarily relocate to the main entrance of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja, if government failed to address their plight after the seven days ultimatum.
Addressing the newsmen shortly after their peaceful protest in Abuja, the Coordinator of the group, Chike Ogbechie, said before now, pension was placed under the priority budget of government which means before anything was done, it would be paid, but gradually the government removed and then relegated it, which has had adverse effects on the pensioners.
The protesters came with different inscriptions which included: “Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning are killing the Contributory Pension Scheme; Clear 15-month backlog now; Stop encouraging corruption, pay the honest retirees their pension; retirement is no crime; Mrs. Kemi Adeosun show sympathy for senior citizens who served the Nation honestly; we are not paid since January, 2016; we are suffering; many have died; as well as this is wickedness, do we need to bed you before paying our money among others.
Speaking further, Ogbechie, who retired as Director in the National Salaries and Wages Commission (NSWC), said the pensioners were aware of current economic recession, but despite that the government has never failed in paying serving civil servants their salaries at the end of every month, saying it could only extend to the first week of the following month, it has never owed the workers.
“We are particular about the role and attitude of the Minister of Finance herself, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, she has no sympathy for elder statesmen, she has no sympathy for senior citizens because we have made attempt to see her, we have written to her several time over this matter, as far as we are concerned, pension is of important that is why she does not give it priority.
“In 2016, government budgeted N51 billion for accrued pension scheme for the entitlement of officers for the period they served from the time they joined the service to the time that the contributory pension scheme started in July 2004, that part government is supposed to pay it together with into the funds that we contributed before they now settle us, that part is a commitment for government which cannot run away from, so that has been relegated and efforts to meet with her to discuss with her has been brushed aside.
“One of the reasons we came today is to see her personally, but if she didn’t submit herself, we will remain here, but unfortunately, we are told that she is out of town, the next time, we are going to occupy this ministry, we are going to bring our mattresses and remain here.
“The other person who has no regard for pension matter, for the senior citizens is the Minister of Budget and Planning, Mr Udo Udoma, what he does is that when the PENCOM, National Pension Commission submit the estimate for contributory pension scheme accrued pension, he slashes it arbitrarily against 2016, the figure was N91 billion based on actual people captured, it is not just an estimate, based on actual people captured, in that office they slashed to N51 billion.
“This year again, N113 billion was submitted including the deceased public servants, whose family to claim their entitlement, they slashed it to N50.1 billion, in order words the backlog is going to remain. Then when the budget now is approved, the minister of finance does not release funds according to the figure, last year she released only N18 billion for this purpose instead of N51 billion that was approved, even the N51 billion was in adequate but she released only N18 billion.
“The last release, we have to come here to fight before she did that, the part of the funds that she approved in December for us, which was N6.7 billion, they have not release it, and their attitude now is that is expired. We are still going to come back if there is no positive development”, he affirmed.
Responding, the Director of Technical Services, Mrs. Larry Shuaib, who stood in for the Permanent Secretary (PS), Ministry of Finance, promised to relate their message to the appropriate authority, saying “this is the first time I will have such an interaction with this group but I can assure you, once PS gets in later, I will deliver your message and he will get back to the minister”.