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CDWR decries dehumanisation of pensioners

CAMPAIGN for Democratic and Workers’ Rights, CDWR, has  condemned harrowing and dehumanising treatment of pensioners by both the federal government and state governments and called on Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and its Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC’s counterpart, to quickly intervene and defend the rights of the pensioners who spent their productive life to work the nation.

In a statement by Comrades Rufus Olusesan and Victor Osakwe, CDWR’s Chairman and Secretary respectively, said: “According to reports, “this brings to 179 the number of pensioners who have died waiting for their pension.”

There was a report on July 8, 2010 of one of the NIPOST retirees who wept publicly complaining of his inability to pay the school fees  of two  of his  children in higher institutions. In the same vein, on July 9, 2010, there was another report of the death of three  pensioners who died in Lagos while doing verification. Yet, we are yet to see any former state governors or presidents do verification before their unwarranted and unjustified pension/gratuity/severance package were paid”.

 It noted “The bill being worked upon by the Kwara State House of Assembly wherein governors and deputy governors since 1999 and their immediate family are  entitled to medical attention both in Nigeria and abroad at a cost to the state, annual vacation of 30 days outside Nigeria with 30 days estacodes and travel allowances for the governor, travel expenses allowances for the governor, three cars for the governor and in addition one pilot and two backup cars to be replaced every three years en bloc, furniture allowance payable every two years en bloc amongst others.”.

The organisation stated,“This unfair treatment is the general run at all levels of government. In certain cases, pensioners, most of them old and sick are made to travel long distance only to be kept under the sun and without due attention, just to come and do verification.

It appears the verification is a grand design to have the pensioners die one after the other in order to enrich those in charge of disbursement, some of whom the money is domiciled in their account and continue to yield interest, which partly explains the reasons there are unnecessary delays. If the verification must be carried out, it should be done at the 774 local governments so that the exercise are carried out close to the pensioners while the cost and convenience of the pensioners from their houses to the local government secretariat should be fully catered for by the respective governments. Where it is not possible for certain pensioners to make it to the local government for health and other reasons, the pension board or such agencies must carry out such verification in their houses.

CDWR also frowned  at the poverty wage being paid to pensioners across the federation. “We see no justification for a pensioner to be paid peanut while the cost of living keeps going up.”

These are pensioners who are prone to sickness in a country with collapsing and expensive health care system coupled with the fact that there is no social security in the country. We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their affiliating trade union leaders to defend the interest of pensioners despite being retirees.

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