THE Military Pension Board, MPB, has dismissed the claims by a cross section of ex-servicemen that it was given N70 billion by the Federal Government to pay their arrears, including 12.5% and 15% salary-increase arrears which they alleged were either partially paid or not paid at all.

It could be recalled that on October 14, 210 edition of Pension and You, with the titled “crisis rocks Military Pension Board”, a cross section of ex-military personnel, under the aegis of Association of Military Pensioners of Nigeria, had alleged non-payment of their harmonized pension, non-payment or partial payment of 12 % and 15% salary increase among others, despite that N70billion was released to MPB by the government for the payment of these benefits and called on President Jonathan to probe the disbursement of the fund, allegations that were

Faulting the claims by the military retirees, the management of MPB described the claims of the retirees not only pernicious insinuations and unverifiable facts, but thoroughly devoid of any factual basis designed to subject the unsuspecting public to unsubstantiated claims and embarrass MPB.

The Board argued that “We are aware that this group of persons organise and sponsor campaigns of calumny against the leadership and operations of the Board from time to time.”

Brig. Gen. Kwaji

MPB in a statement by Flight Lieutenant PL Gbenekanu, its Public Relations Officer, PRO, maintained that  the MPB was the first out of the six pension departments of the Federal Government to pay the pension arrears when President  Jonathan  flagged off the payment exercise  on 22 June 2010.

According to the statement: “This achievement was because of the efficiency and transparency of her operations in terms of harmonizing pension payments with the three increases that took effect from November 2009.  Indeed, other Federal Government pension department sought advice from MPB on the templates and modalities that was used to achieve these efficient results.

We offered our expertise to them, and these sister agencies subsequently recorded some level of successes.

The “N70 billion” figure claims as the amount that the Federal Government purportedly lodged with MPB for disbursement of outstanding seven years military pension arrears, is absolutely mischievous and must be discountenanced.  For 2010 Financial Year, the Federal Government appropriated the total or combined sum of N69.3 billion for the payment of all outstanding pension arrears or increments. This sum was for the six pension departments and agencies, and not just military pensioners.

This figure is easily verifiable. Out of this budgeted N69.3 billion, MPB received N17 billion which has been judiciously and transparently disbursed to genuine pensioners.
On the issue of those who died prior to the payment of these arrears, MPB noted that the arrears were paid to those on the payroll by  June 2010 and that those who died prior to the payment exercise would  have the arrears paid to their Next-of-Kins (NOKs), saying “the NOKs should come to the Board with all the ex soldier’s documents and apply for the arrears.

The Board has been paying the NOKs of deceased retirees the arrears since July 2010 and more are still coming forward for payment.”

The allegation of  “the 12.5% and 15% salary increment, for the payment of harmonized military salary and monetization. It is not entirely unlikely that a few military pensioners might be confused about the financial calculations for the arrears derived and payable from the salary increments.

It is also not unreasonable to expect that a few would even be disappointed with the eventual sums that were calculated and paid out based on computed salary increments.

It should be noted that there was no pension harmonization with a value at 12%. Rather the 12% value arose from the sliding scale increment of 4 – 12.5% salary review, effective October 2003, which was harmonized with pension at only 6%.

For the sake of setting the record straight and presenting accurate information to the military retirees, it is necessary to repeat the following three facts: The October 2003 increment was paid to Federal workers on a sliding scale of 4-12.5%. When harmonized with pension, this increment was given by the Federal Government at 6% and computed from October 2003 to December 2006 for those on the payroll at the time; the longest payable duration is 39 month.

The January 2007 increment was also granted by the FG to its workers at the rate of 15% and the harmonization rate was also 15%. The computation of these arrears commenced in January 2007 for those on the payroll, covered the period ranging from January to December 2007, and longest payable duration is 12 months.

The last salary increment for members of the Armed Forces only during this period was in January 2008.

The harmonization rate for military retirees was set at 23% and was to cover the period from January 2008 through October 2009.  Recall that MPB started implementing the reviews effective November 2009.
Those who did not receive all the above arrears must be because they were not entitled to it for one of the following reasons:

The ex-serviceman was not on payroll when pension increments were granted thus he was not eligible for those arrears. Medically Boarded ex-soldiers who were not qualified for pension were compassionately placed on payroll by Mr President on 1 January 2008 but without recourse to any arrears.  Thus, they are entitled to only the 23% pension review effective January 2008

Payment of arrears depends on when the retiree was pay-rolled. In the strongest terms, MPB wishes to discountenance the seemingly campaign of calumny reflected in the pernicious insinuations of the Vanguard publication.  MPB has been successfully reorganized and repositioned to provide timely and efficient service delivery to our retirees.  We take great pride in continuing to work diligently to meet the needs of our pensioners.

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