COVID-19: Pensioners lament neglect by FG, PTF

•As NUP distributes food items, money, PPE to members

HUNDREDS of pensioners, who gathered at the headquarters of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Abuja at the weekend lamented that they had been neglected by the Federal Government and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, as Nigeria confronts the battle against the pandemic.

The elderly citizens gathered to benefit from the meagre palliatives and relief materials the leadership of NUP national headquarters was able to provide for them. The pensioners said they had been completely neglected by the government and the PTF despite being the most vulnerable in the society.

General Secretary of NUP, Elder Actor Zal, lamented that members of the union across the country had been neglected by the Federal Government and the PTF in the distribution of palliatives and other relief materials to the vulnerable citizens to cushion the effect of the pandemic.

This, according to him, is despite the fact that the union had written to the PTF on the need to take special care of the pensioners at this critical time and make use of the NUP national headquarter as the channel of distribution to get to their members and the real elderly people.

Some pensioners, who spoke on the gesture of the union, under the leadership of its National President, Dr. Abel Afolayan, lamented their pathetic condition and called on the government to pay their pensions promptly. They also called on the PTF to consider them in the palliatives being distributed to vulnerable citizens.

The National Chairman, Federal Civil Service Pensioners, Omezi Sunday, who spoke on their plights said: “We commend the national leadership of NUP for this kind gesture. We are appealing to the PTF that they should assist the National Union of Pensioners because we are vulnerable so that pensioners all over the country can get this palliative.”

Also, Sam Nzene, representing the Nigeria Airways Pensioners, said: “Nothing has been given to us so far as palliative, even our pensions that have been due for two years, the balance of 50 per cent have not been paid.

“Our members are suffering greatly since this lockdown commenced; nothing to eat. Considering our age, some of us have terminal sicknesses and we can’t buy drugs because of the situation.

“Some of my members have even died from COVID-19. I can authoritatively tell you that some of my members have died especially in Kano. We have about five members that have died due to COVID-19.

“We are appealing to government to pay the balance of our pension. We are not even talking about palliative because no one is thinking about the wellbeing of pensioners. All we are saying is, pay us our pension so that we can survive and take care of ourselves under this terrible period. Considering our age, we are very vulnerable and the government should consider us in their plans.”

Elder Zal, the General Secretary said in the union’s effort to provide succour to the helpless vulnerable pensioners, the NUP under the leadership of Dr Afolayan came up with the palliative.

He said the palliative, which include food items, money and personal protective equipment (PPE) were distributed to the vulnerable members to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown in the country.

“With this token, we believe that the union has been able to reach out to its members in this critical time in the history of our nation,” he said.



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