THE Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has demanded for N25,000 as new minimum pension. The union said it is sad that many pensioners were still paid less than N5,000 monthly, even with the high rate of inflation and recession.
The President of NUP, Comrade Abel Afolayan, while addressing the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the union in Abuja recently, said most of the state pensioners were being owed over 12 months arrears of pension.
He, however, praised the governors of Lagos, Jigawa, Anambra, Enugu and Yobe states for not owing pensioners. He urged defaulting governors and states to make amend.
“We want you to make amend so that old men will not be forced to curse you with their grey hair,” he said.
While the NUP is demanding N25,000 as the new national minimum pension per month, the union also canvassed immediate payment of the 18 months arrears of the 33 per cent pension to civil pensioners and 39 months areas owed police pensioners.
On its new demand, Afolayan declared that it was criminal for a pensioner to collect less than N5,000 monthly in this time of serious economic recession.
He said the union entered into a long negotiation with the Federal Government for the upward review of pension, which finally yielded result when former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) directed the salaries, incomes and wages commission to issue a circular for 33 per cent pension increase effective from July 1, 2010.
“Since then, civilian pensioners throughout the country were paid 24 months, out of the 42 months arrears, remaining a balance of 18 months of which we have a very good assurance that government will pay the balance soonest,’’ he said.
The NUP chief added that the union is still struggling to ensure that police, NIPOST, electricity, railways, universities pensioners and others who are yet to get full benefit from the government are paid fully. He assured pensioners across the country that the union would not rest until all of them who are owed get their pensions.
In a related development, NUP, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Port Harcourt branch, has linked the present economic challenges facing the nation to institutionalised corruption in the country.
Chairperson of the Union, Vincent Nweke, who disclosed this to newsmen in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, noted that every sector of the economy has been infested with corruption to the point that it has become a way of life to make money without working for it.
According to him, every policy of government to develop the economy will be frustrated because of greed, while monies earmarked will be diverted to private pockets and programmes left without execution.
Nweke applauded the steps taken by the Federal Government to sack as well as demote some directors and general managers of the authority whose cases were fraudulent.
He said some of the directors and managers were recruited into the organisation after their National Youth Service (NYSC) and were placed on management posts without prerequisite experience and qualification.
Nweke said even when the workers’ union then raised alarm over such issue; everything was swept under the carpet because of corruption, which also happens in other sectors.
“Tell me, how can Nigeria move forward when money budgeted for development is not used for the purpose for which it was meant,” he queried.
He, therefore, called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to be very thorough and fight corruption holistically.