By Nazifi Dawud
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has lamented the non-payment backlog of pensions by the executive arm of government, warning that the act is unacceptable.
This was revealed in a statement by the spokesman to the speaker, Turaki Hassan, and made available to newsmen.
Mr Dogara made the comment Thursday when the minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and that of Budget and Planning, Udoma Udoma, appeared before the lawmakers to explain the efforts being made by the government to clear the arrears owed to the pensioners.
“We will not accept any excuse that leaves part of this pension funds hanging. When the President made a commitment that he was going to release money for bailout to States so that they can pay backlog of salaries and pensions, it happened, even though we were in the midst of a very biting recession. Now the President has said this issue of pension must be solved,” Mr Dogara said.
“I don’t know where you got the money to bail out the states from, wherever you got the money from,that is where we are going to get the money to solve this problem. And for the ministers who are representatives of the president, I believe you won’t make him (Buhari) break his words because his words are cherished. I want to believe this will be the last intervention we will be having with regards to the issue of pensions in this country. That is my charge,” he warned.
The speaker however said he was confident that President Muhammadu Buhari would pay the pensioners, recalling that the president had ensured that salaries of civil servants were paid in states when he released bailout funds.
“The message the House will be sending to the president through the ministers is, when you meet him to brief him about this engagement, just tell him that we have taken his words to the bank and we believe that we will cash it.”
Also speaking, the president of National Union of Pensioners, NUP, Abel Afolayan, thanked President Mr Messrs Buhari, Dogara and the House of Representatives “for listening to their issues and taking action”.
Mr Afolayan however, pleaded with the executive ”to speedily pay the 33 percent arrears, preferably within a month, especially as police pensioners were paid for 3 months out of 42 and they cannot protest in or out of service”.