By Victor Ahiuma-Young
THERE are strong indications that a crisis of confidence is now rocking the Military Pension Board, MPB, and some military pensioners have called on President Jonathan to investigate how the N70 billion meant for the settlement of their benefits was disbursed.
Investigation revealed that the pensioners are grieving over alleged non-payment of their 12%, 15% salary increment, payment of their harmonized military salary and monetization, which they claimed the N70billion was meant to settle.
A brief statement by some of the aggrieved ex-service men, read: “It is disheartening that after the President released the sum of N70billion for the payment of Military Pension Arrears and the Director of Military Pension Board went on the air that he has paid the arrears.
We call on the President to order an investigation whether it is true or not. To put the fact straight, we are still owed our 12 % and 15% arrears because he (Director) paid only part of it and we are still paid our old rate. That is, not harmonised military salary. We want to use this medium to ask the military pension authority to explain why is it so?”
Investigation by Pension and You revealed that a cross section of ex-service men, under the umbrella of Association of Military Pensioners of Nigeria, had wanted to mobilise the ex-servicemen to protest and boycott the just celebrated nation’s golden independence anniversary over alleged insensitivity of the management of the MPB to their plight.
According to Pension and You investigation, the group had planned to circulate leaflets and test messages to mobilise the retirees, but later decided against it.
The leaflet, investigations revealed would have read: “Association of Military Pensioners of Nigeria: To All Nigerian legionians. Boycott: in protest of none payment of our 12%, 15% and harmonised military salary with our monetisation for the past 7 years. All legionians are hereby directed to boycott the forthcoming 50th independence anniversary until Brigadier-General B Kwaji pays our money because he is telling us that ‘the labour of our past is in vain’. Long life Nigeria.”
Similarly, a release by another set of the protesting military retirees, made available to Pension and You, said, “it was in the bible that we read “for listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay, the wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the LORD Almighty”.
We were all happy when our unshakable and knowledgeable president Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan released the sum of N 70bn for the payment of military pension arrears which has been owned for the past seven years. This money was meant for the payment of the 12%, 15% salary increment, for the payment of the harmonized military salary and monetization.
This was on the 23rd of March 2010. On the 22nd of June 2010 the Director of the military pension board. Brigadier-General B Kwaji went on the air to announce that he has paid military pensioners their arrears. On the 23rd of June 2010 we got text messages (credit alert) from our banks.” “Some pensioners got two text messages while some got three.
The first text message was for N25,000.00, and the second was N 50,000.00, with this figure we have been trying to calculate the percentage and to know how much was paid and to come to think of it that only N 75,000.00 was the amount due to some of us for seven years, this was what we cheated death for, for the past seven years? What happened to others, and those military pensioners who died recently while waiting before the money was released? We are even still paid our old rate and not the harmonized military salary.
Brig-Gen B Kwaji owe us a duty to explain the modalities he used in paying the arrears because the haphazardness of the military pension board in the payment of the arrears has sent some of our colleagues to their early graves. Denying us of our enhanced package is a rape of justice. You could imaging how the 50th Independent anniversary was spent. The banks too should try by not encouraging the military pension board officials to deposit this money for profit making.
We only hope because that is the essence of our faith.”
All efforts to the reach the management of Military Pension Board throughout last week were not successful. Several calls made to an official in the office was not responded to. Even a text message to the said official at the time of this report was not responded to. However, the management of the MPB still have the opportunity to respond to the pensioners claim in subsequent edition of Pension and You.