Retired Career Ambassadors have lamented the paltry monthly pension of between N50,000 and N100,000 being paid to them and called on the Federal Government for an upward review.
The retired Ambassadors made their position known at the sidelines of the book lunch of one of their colleagues, Mohammed Ibrahim, in Abuja.
Ibrahim’s book “With Heart and Might: 33 Years in the Nigerian Diplomatic Service”, a memoir of Ibrahim’s life in service, highlights some of the challenges in the Foreign Service and officers with recommendations for improvements.
Amb. Brownson Dede, Nigeria’s former Permanent Representative to the then Organisation of African Union (OAU), and book reviewer, said that the paltry pension was no longer commensurate with the present cost of living.
Mr Dede, a former Ambassador to Ethiopia and Eritrea, not only decried the sad situation but also called on the government to do something urgently to ameliorate the sufferings of career Ambassadors.
“An appeal/request for a pension review for career Ambassadors was submitted to the government in 2017.
“It is a source of concern that five years after nothing has been said or done about this request.
“We call on the government to do something urgently to ameliorate the sufferings of career Ambassadors.
“They are faced with geriatric health challenges and rising cost of living that cannot be met from such paltry monthly pensions,” Mr Dede said.
Amb. Pius Ayewoh, a former Ambassador to Algeria and Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN in Geneva, also reiterated the need for improved pension for career Ambassadors who had served Nigeria.
“I think this opportunity should not be missed to place this pathetic case of poor monthly pensions of retired career Ambassadors in the public domain.
“After 35 years and representing the country at the highest level in the international fora, career ambassadors retire on a paltry pension of between N50,000 and N100,000.
“This is unthinkable for people who have served their country meritoriously, with heart and might.
“Sometimes putting their lives and that of their family in danger as contained in the memoirs of Ambassador MK Ibrahim,” Mr Ayewoh said.
Amb. Ozo Nwobu, also a former Ambassador to and spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that retired career Ambassadors remained human capital assets of the country.
Mr Nwobu, who was one of the anchors of the book launch programme, wondered why the government should, in his view, allow such a rich pool of human capital to atrophy and waste in retirement.
“Retired career ambassadors are human capital assets of the nation and should be treated as such.
“My primary concern in addition to the impact on the post retirement lives of the career ambassadors is the disincentive poor monthly pension served to younger officers in the service.
“They would not be incentivised to give their best or for that matter put country before personal interests,” Mr Nwobu said.