The Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the payment of over 42 months pension arrears of its members, through the Pensions Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD.
NUP Head of Information, Bunmi Ogunkolade, told newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday that this feat was laudable, calling for its sustainability.
He said within four years of the present administration, the federal pensioners have enjoyed regular payment.
Mr Ogunkolade decried some states that have not lived up to the expectations in the prompt payments of its pensioners.
He listed Imo, Kogi states as those who failed in paying pensioner’s entitlement, and commended efforts of Yobe, Kano, Ogun, Anambra and Jigawa states for prioritising payment of pensioners.
“If we are to do an overview of pension activities under this regime, we have said it times without number, that we are grateful to the president, Pensioners in Nigeria are grateful to this President.
“In four years of the President’s administration, we had 42 months pension arrears of 33.4 per cent pension increase of 2010, pensioners had 42 months pension arrears, despite the economic situation, we entered recession and came out of it, the government, through PTAD cleared it all.’’
“However, NUP still awaits a circular from the National Salaries and Wages Commission to enforce the full implementation of the 15 per cent increase for our members.”
He said this was necessary to know the exact increment that each pensioner gets.
The Pension Reform Act stipulates the review and implementation of a 15 per cent increase for pensioners every five years.
According to him, the union had protested and written to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and still await further discussions to resolve the issue.
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“The table of implementation is not out, they have not spoken to us, so the Nigeria Union of Pensioners is waiting for government to talk to us as a body so that we will know where we are, and when implementation will start.
“We need the circular to show what is the total emolument added to each pensioner.
“We have written to the salaries and wages commission, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on this matter, we even protested to the SGF a month ago, and they said they are going to contact us, up till now, we are waiting for them to know where we are on the matter.”
On verification directive from the PTAD, Mr Ogunkolade said the Union had directed its members in the parastatal agencies in the North East Zone to make use of the opportunity to visit verification centres in Borno, Adamawa and Bauchi states to be captured in the pensioners’ database.
He said it was an ongoing exercise, adding that this became necessary following reports that some persons may have missed out due to tangible reasons.
The spokesperson debunked reports that the association of retired civil servants were being denied payment of outstanding arrears from the Contributory Pension Scheme, saying that the Union was consulting with PENCOM to settle all issues amicably.
“The Government has to source for fund, they can’t do this from their money, we have held a meeting with PENCOM, and they assured us that it has to do with government sourcing for funds.
“It has to do with budget and the total amount involved has to be calculated and all that. We assure them that they are going to be paid, we have been assured on this.”
He said the Union would have loved to be part of negotiations and agreements on minimum wage, saying it was reassuring that PTAD have made submissions on behalf of Pensioners.
He said there was the need for tiers of government to take care of Pensioners, saying they are the ‘chicken that laid the golden eggs’ while in their active years.
“Government should just do the needful and take care of them, to be a good example to present workers, in fact, which is one panacea to stop corruption.
“If somebody that is working today discovers that the country will not take care of him when he grows old, he will rather take care of himself now that he is working.
“He won’t want to be foolish like his father, so we appeal to them to take care of the pensioners so that people that are working today will like to work unblemished and retire gloriously to the care of government.”