Retirees push for laws to punish state governments who fail to pay pension

December 14, 2021
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By Favour Goodness

Retirees under the auspices of Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), have asked the federal government to include laws and punishments in the Nigerian constitution to force State governments to pay their entitlements promptly.

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They also charged government at all levels to stop the maltreatment of senior citizens in the country by treating them like spare tires, insisting that pension is a right and not a privilege.

National President of NUP, Mr Godwin Abumisi said this while speaking during Pensioners’ Day Celebration which was held at Labour House, Abuja.

Abumasi asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to relent in making issues of gratuity and other entitlements a priority, adding that the senior citizens had spent their youthful age in the service and development of the nation.

He said, ”Never will it be said again that Nigerian pensioners are spare tyres and they are old enough to die. We shall take our pride of place in this country, and stand firmly to claim our rights from the government of this nation that we have used our youthful strength to serve. Together in unity, we shall achieve our aims,” he said.

The union leader also condemned the attitude of State governors whom he described as ”emperors”, towards retirees, saying that they have made lives unbearable for citizens.

According to him, ”Our major challenges have been with the State Governments, many of whom have become emperors in their various States. They govern with iron hands in a democratic setting as ours.

”Many of them collapsed governance instruments together under their palm as the-one-man all-powerful governor is the judiciary, the legislature and the executive put together.

”I wish to place on record that the payment of a monthly pension to the pensioners is a right not a privilege. Unfortunately, the constitution does not prescribe any punishment for such erring governors who trained the pensioners with disdain.”

Meanwhile, a short feud occurred during the NUP Day celebration where some retirees who identified themselves as members of Federal Civil Service Pensioners (FCSP) tried to disrupt the gathering.

For about five minutes, the rowdy session at the venue of the celebration nearly stalled the programme before the intervention of the spokesman of NUP, Bunmi Ogunkolade, who appealed to the aggrieved retirees not to destabilize the programme.

Explaining the cause of the altercation to journalists outside the venue, Chairman of FCSP, Omezi Sunday, said they were disgruntled because the executive members of NUP did not carry them along in their activities.

Sunday said, ”We are Federal Pensioners, and I believe that the person who stood up to ask the President why they didn’t call us, has the right to ask his questions. We are stakeholders, they are calling others as stakeholders, we, as federal Pensioners, were not called stakeholders. That was why the person went and asked because we are the largest contributors to the NUP”.

Speaking further, Sunday maintained that its consistent efforts to correct NUP made the latter to dissolve the National Executive Council of FCSPB and set up what he described as an “illegal caretaker committee.”

“The federal government should be able to obey the constitutional provision and review our pension,” Omezi said.

The FCSP chairman tasked pensioners in the country to unite so as to tackle the government over alleged neglect of their entitlements.

“Our wish for the Pensioners Day is that we pensioners should unite,we have one common enemy which is the federal government that has not been giving us our entitlements. We are supposed to collect our review in 2015 and 2020 but we don’t know what they are doing,” he said.

He called on the government to resolve FCSPB’s issue with NUP so that the former can start collecting its entitlements directly from PTAD just like other NUP affiliate bodies.

“We have issues with check-up dues because NUP is shortchanging us by not giving us our rightful entitlements. This, we have long reported to our regulatory body, being the Federal Ministry of Labour.

”NUP is not going through their constitution. The operations of NUP are contrary to the constitution and we dragged them before the Federal Ministry of Labour.

“They are supposed to remit 55 percent of the check-up due to us, take 35 percent and give Nigeria Labour Congress 10 percent which is altogether 100 percent.

“The NUP collects our money directly from PTAD and then give us whatever they like and our complaints to PTAD to stop this has not yielded positive result as PTAD said it doesn’t want to dabble into labour issue, saying it is the duty of the Federal Ministry of Labour to resolve our problem and the ministry is still conciliating.

“It directed us to go back and settle ourselves as according to it, it’s an internal issue adding that if we can’t do that, we should come back.

”We held a meeting with the ministry on the 22nd of November and the meeting ended up in deadlock, so we have reported back to the ministry, waiting for its action.

“We want the ministry to refer us to Industrial Arbitration Panel if they cannot solve the problem. If the Federal Ministry of Labour feels that we cannot work in harmony with the NUP, then they should refer us because we have all it takes to pull out, we are a federal union,” he said.
Omezi alleged that NUP released over N17 million from FCSPB’s account to the caretaker committee it set up within the three months it lasted.

“The NUP at a point dissolved the National Executive Council of our union and set up an illegal caretaker committee. That caretaker committee was not supposed to exist at all in the first place. We had an issue with the NUP and because of the issue, the NUP dissolved us. We took this before the ministry and the NUP was forced to reinstate us but unfortunately, the NUP is still dealing with the caretaker committee.

“In the three months that the NUP dissolved us, it gave over N17 million to the caretaker committee. The money released to the caretaker committee for the three months the illegal dissolution lasted, they have refused to return it to us till today,” he alleged.

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