Pensioners, under the auspices of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), have cried out that many of their members have died from COVID-19 pandemic; yet the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the government have refused to assist them.
Some of the pensioners, who spoke to journalists when the National Headquarter of NUP distributed palliatives and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), to over 200 pensioners at the weekend in Abuja, said the PTF and the Federal Government have neglected them, despite the fact that they are the most vulnerable and their members were dying daily as a result of COVID-19.
Though, the NUP General Secretary, Elder Actor Zal, said he cannot give the numbers of the pensioners that have died because he didn’t have the detailed statistics, the Chairman, NUP, Nigeria Airways branch, Sam Nzene, said at least five of his members have died from COVID-19; especially in Kano.
The NUP General Secretary said: “We don’t have any statistics of the numbers of Pensioners that have died to COVID-19 at the moment; so I am not in a position to say certain numbers of our members have died, but our members have died from COVID-19.”
Nzene, while speaking regretted that despite losing its members to the pandemic, the government has refused to consider the pensioners even though the NUP has written to the PTF and called on it for the inclusion of its members in the COVID-19 palliative being distributed to the vulnerable citizens.
He also pointed out that two years after paying the 50% of their pensions in the Nigeria Airways, the government has not paid the remaining half.
Nzene said: “Nothing has been given to us so far as a 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, and there is 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, about five members have died due to COVID-19.
“We are appealing to the 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.”
Also, the Chairman, NUP, Federal Civil Service Pensioners, Omezi Sunday, commended the National leadership of NUP for this kind gesture, and said, “we are appealing to 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.
“We are appealing to PTF to support the national leadership of NUP so that the palliative can go round our members nationwide.”
While distributing the palliatives and PPE which included bags of food items, face masks, sanitizer and money, the General Secretary said the pensioners must resolve to stay safe and stay alive.
Elder Zal said: “We must, therefore, resolve to stay safe and stay alive by adhering to the prescribed measures/steps by the Presidential Task Force (PTF). It is against this backdrop that we urge all Pensioners to observe all the precautionary measures for their safety and that of their families.
“In its effort to provide succour to the helpless vulnerable Pensioners, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), National Headquarters, under the leadership of Dr Abel O. Afolayan has come up with the initiative of dishing out these food items and a token of transport money as palliatives to our vulnerable members to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown in our country.”