Pensioners lament unjust treatment, frustration from government

•    Say Pension Funds became cesspool of corruption under OHCS

THE pensioners, under the auspices of Nigeria Union of Pensioners on Wednesday gave a gory picture of what is presently befalling their members across the federation and lamented their neglect by President Muhammadu Buhari, regretting that the President had neglected them and rebuffed all their efforts to bring their plights to his notice.

Besides, in what it termed a world press conference addressed yesterday at the Labour House, Abuja, the NUP President, Dr Abel Afolayan, declared that the Pension Funds became a cesspool of corruption under the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

Speaking on the many plights of the pensioners, Afolayan, said the pensioners were the worst hit by the uncontrolled corruption and suffered tremendous effect of corruption the most in the country.

He added with pains that the pensioners, who have used their youthful age to serve the country meritoriously in various field of human endeavour have virtually become endanger species.

“Mr President, we humbly wish to say that if there is any group of people who have suffered tremendous effects of corruption in Nigeria, it is the pensioners who have virtually become endangered species. In the days when pensioners were paid by the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Pension Funds became virtually a cesspool of corruption where officers dipped their hands and gratified their insatiable dirty appetites.” Afolayan said.

The NUP president commended the “determination, commitment and courage” of President Buhari on his no non-sense relentless frontal attack on corruption in Nigeria.

Though, he stated that the pensioners were fully in support of the President in this regards, he regretted that he had neglected them to their plights.

He said: “We are not unmindful of the economic downturn in the nation at present. We pray that God in his infinite mercy will bring succour to the Nigerian economic woes so that President Buhari can fulfil his electoral promises to Nigerians.

“We have made several efforts on several occasions for the leadership of the union to meet and dialogue with Mr President over our multifarious problems. These efforts have, so far been fruitless. This is why we have resorted to addressing this World Press Conference so as to make our plight known to the government in particular and Nigerians in general and the world at large.”

Afolayan pointed out that the non-payment of backlogs of pension arrears, which have piled up over the years during the regime of past administrations and many complaint forms submitted by pensioners; which was inherited by the Pension Transitional Arrangements Directorate (PTAD) still lie unattended to.

He said the pensioners would be glad if settlement and payment of the arrears can be addressed and effected expeditiously.

He also lamented the non-completion of the screening and verification exercise by the PTAD and pleaded that the government should give the agency what it required, especially the necessary funds to complete the exercise and pay the arrears due to genuine and cleared pensioners.

He said the pensioners are eagerly waiting for the review and implementation of the pension as reflected in Section 173 (3) and 210(3) of the 1999 Constitution that the pension shall be reviewed every five years, adding that the reviewed was due since 2015.

On the non-harmonisation of pension, the NUP president said: “Our next humble request has to do with harmonisation of old and new pension rates. We have discovered, to our dismay that the various harmonisation exercises carried out in the past have not been properly done and as such cannot at all be described as harmonisation. There are still cases of wide gaps between monthly pensions of officers of the same rank who retired at different times but the same statutory retired ages at the same statutorily-defined number of service years.

“We humbly request that necessary machinery and fool-proof methodology should be put in place to avoid some retired officers being short-changed during subsequent harmonisation exercises.  We note with joy and commendation the report that harmonisation has been approved for military pensioners in the rank brackets of Private to Sergeant, as well as Brigadier-General and above.

“We would like to plead that the same be done for civil and para-military pensioners, as whatever is good for the goose should be good for the gander.”