By Victor Ahiuma-Young
FEDERAL Civil Service Pensioners have called on President Jonathan to sack the Head of Service, HOS, of the Federation, Mr. Steve Orasonya, for allegedly refusing to pay their accumulated pension arrears and other benefits despite the provision of such payments in the 2010 budget.
Under the umbrella of Civil Service Pensioners Association sector of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, the aggrieved pensioners argued that it was particularly disturbing and painful because President Jonathan directed that all accruing pensions should be paid before October 1, 2010, including arrears.
At a meeting in Lagos, the pensioners lamented that instead of paying them, the HOS had continued to ask them to do one verification after another, with the latest said to be taking place in Abuja for those who allegedly could not be verified during the controversial June 21st – July 21st 2010, verification exercise.
Summing up the grievances of the retirees, National Secretary of association, Mr. Pius Nwa Chukwurah, said there was no way members could go to Abuja for verification, wondering who would bear the cost of transportation, accommodation, feeding and other expenses to incurred from travelling from the pensioners’ bases to Abuja.
He accused some of the banks of conniving with officials from the office of the HOS to inflict pains and suffering on the pensioners, saying, “when the pensioners received alert if we go to the bank nothing will be in the account. So, we are a passing a vote of no confidence in the Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Steve Oransaya . We are calling on President Jonathan to sack him for inflicting pains and sufferings on us. Despite the directive that we should be paid. He has refused to pay us.
Mr. Chukwurah lamented that the police and military pensioners had been paid but the Civil service pensioners had not been paid and said that e-payment was good, but bio-metric exercise was a total failure, saying, “let us standardise the e-payment or put it away or complete the payment.”
He is now telling us to come to Abuja for verification. We cannot come to Abuja. We do have the means to come Abuja. The journey to Abuja will cost not less than N10, 000 for a pensioner transport and welfare. Also members ill health is a big problem.. If he wants to do verifications, he should do it across the states. I can tell you that nobody can go to Abuja for verification.”
Recalling the genesis of their plight, the Secretary said: “We had our fears about the verifications of June 21st – July 21st 2010, and all our fear have been vindicated now. The verification was aborted when it was only half way through as there were still thousands of Pensioners still to be verified. Most of those verified’ were given cheque drawn on Guarantee Trust Bank PIc for the payment of their June 2010 pensions. Many of them are yet to receive subsequent monthly payments. However there are others who were not paid anything, although verified, and were promised that their accounts would be subsequently credited with their monthly, pensions. As we speak today, this promise is yet to be met.
There are also others, who though verified and have not been paid anything since retirement going back to sixteen years. They were also promised that their bank accounts would be subsequently credited., but all to no avail. Others who were duly verified and captured could not receive their cheques because of the sudden departure of the verification team.
Yet there are others who completed and submitted their forms but were not verified and their forms were carried away. Many more were bed-ridden in their homes and hospitals who were not attended to. Those who could not come out for verification because of none or inadequate information abound.
There were equally many who traveled to holiday with their children or on health-grounds. The pensioners owe nobody any excuses to travel at will. We at this stage, request that the verification teams be sent out to complete verifications in all states of the Federation including Abuja.”
He added that “we were promised that the arrears of pension, emanating from the circular issued by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission in respect of increases of Salaries of 20032007, would be paid based on the 2009, August-September verification. There is now the imposition on us in June-July the verification which is far from completion.
We also expect increases effective from 1st July 2010 based yet on the Nigerian Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission recent circular. We want to know, when the captured arrears in the 2010 estimates for 2003-2007 increase, along with that of 1st July 2010 will be paid to the Federal Civil Service Pensioners. This is particularly relevant when it is understood that the President and Commander in Chief of Nigeria Armed Forces had directed that all accruing pensions should be paid before October 1, 2010 to include arrears.”