FMBN pensioners look up to Buhari over delayed 10 year-rights

Stuck in the struggle to earn their rights for over 10 years, saddened by the glaringly stumbling blocks that seem to have sworn never to allow them have the entitlement of their many years of hard work, pensioners of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) cry and seek the help of President Muhammadu Buhari. CHRISTIAN APPOLOS writes.

You just can’t help the piteous feeling that engulfs you when you see and hear the sadness and frustration in their eyes and voice. “Yes. President Buhari will definitely help us if he gets to hear our plight,” they chorused in their hope.

Explaining their ordeal to newsmen at the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) headquarters in Abuja last weekend, the FMBN pensioners, led by its National President, Comrade Oladipo Ani, said, “We want to bring to the notice of President Muhammadu Buhari, the decision of the Managing Director of FMBN, Arch. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa from Katsina, who is using the name of Mr. President to enslave us.”

Furthermore, Ani explained, “Pensioners in FMBN were being paid monthly pittance with no regard to the pension arrears, while pensioners of the Federal Mortgage Finance (FMF) were denied payment outrightly up till now.

“FMF pensioners instituted a court action and got judgement against FMBN that the issue of pension arrears payment is a constitutional-backed entitlement, thus not negotiable. When FMBN refused to pay the pension arrears, the judgement was executed but FMBN pleaded for time and still failed to honour its promises to pay the arrears. As a responsible union, we shifted our attention to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

“Consequently, a committee was set up by the Ministry, consisting of the Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, FMBN, FMFL and representatives of the union, where the figure of the arrears was computed and agreed. Having realised that the arrears were mounting and other wages and entitlements denied, we had to engage the Secretary to the Government of the Federation during one of the COVID-19 sessions on the number of our members who have passed away due to lack of medical care.”

Comrade Ani went on to note the intervention of other government ministries which judged the matter and gave their directives.

His words, “The Hon. Minister of Finance in a letter dated June 7, 2022 with Ref. no. F6847/T/504 addressed to the Hon. Minister of Works and Housing, advised as follows: i. FMBN to liquidate the assets of the defunct FMFL and make the required payment in respect of the judgement debt in the sum of N4,774,517,205.36, being the accumulated terminal benefit settlement, including 10 years outstanding pension and gratuities of the pensioners; and

“ii. FMBN to enroll pensioners and immediately commence payment of their monthly pension in line with the judgement sum of N41,096,700.24 per month.

“The Hon. Minister of Works and Housing in another letter dated August 2, 2021, Ref. no. FMPW&H/LU/1133/2017/1/189 addressed to the Managing Director, the Hon. Minister directed the MD as follows:

  1. That the FMBN should liquidate the assets of the defunct FMFL and make up the required payment in respect of the judgement debt.

“ii. That the FMBN should enroll the FMFL pensioners and immediately commence payment of their monthly pension in line with the court judgement. iii. In furtherance to the above, the Hon. Minister hereby directs that FMBN should budget for their liability and work out agreeable modalities with the affected pensioners for the settlement of their benefits.

“In another letter from the presidency addressed to this same MD, Arch. Ahmed a Dangiwa on October 26, 2021, he was chided for non-compliance to ministerial directive that he should explore all internal mechanisms to end the lingering issue of unpaid accumulated pension benefits.

“In spite of all these directives from various quarters, it is highly disheartening that the MD, who only pleaded for a little time to sort out things with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in a letter he personally signed together with the legal adviser, Mr. Y.A. Oaikhena dated September 28, 2017, has refused to yield. Copies of all these letters are here made available for the press.

“On the strength of our letter of protest, the MD of FMBN, not even considering our age and status, has contacted the security agencies that we have threatened to kill him and to disrupt the activities of the bank, hence all the premises of FMBN is now under surveillance and some of our members are being haunted, shifting attention on legitimate demand which is now being criminalised.

“We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to please consider our plight and call the Managing Director to order and save us all from untimely death.”

With tears in his eyes, Ani said, “What we have gone through and still suffering, words alone cannot express. We need Mr President’s intervention urgently. We are also calling on Nigerians to help us, because it is very unfair that we are treated and regarded as worthless and undeserving of our entitlements despite the many years we laboured for the progress and development of our dear country.”

To this end, the pensioners obviously believe that President Buhari can indeed bring succour to them. Does Mr President have the powers to help them? The Head of Corporate Communications, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Ahmed Mohammed, has this to say.

“What you heard is not exactly the fact. The fact is that this issue is before the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The  Federal Executive Council can approve what the court judgement said. It is not what the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria can do. It is an issue of the Federal Government. It is the Federal Executive Council that has the power to approve those entitlements of the pensioners, it is not the FMBN. FMBN has forwarded the court judgement to the Federal Government.”\


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