By Kingsley Omonobi
Relief has finally come the way of over 85, 000 military pensioners who have been languishing in pains and protesting non-payment of arrears of their 33% increment, from 2010 to 2013, as the federal government has commenced payment of the arrears.
The payment, Pension and You, gathered would be paid quarterly and the money for the first of this year that will be ending by this month has already been paid into the pensioners bank accounts.
Recall that military pensioners had before now protested severally including two attempts to protest to the Presidential Villa and the National Assembly but, they were stopped by soldiers of the Guards Brigade in November 2014 and January this year, with some of the pensioners threatening to cause problems during the 2015 elections.
However, the issue according to the Chairman of the Military Pensions Board, MPB, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Rabiu Dabo, had been addressed with government providing fund for the settlement of one year arrears while budgetary allocation would be made to settle the remaining two years from 2016.
According to Dabo, the payment of the arrears spanning July 2010 to July 2013 would to be done in batches hence the first instalment which covers 2010, would be paid this year but on a quarterly basis.
He explained that the first quarter payment for 2015 which ends this March had commenced with many military pensioners already getting alerts of their arrears of the 33% since February.
While noting that the next quarter starting from April would see retired soldiers receiving the next batch, AVM Dabo said when the arrears of 2010 was cleared, government would make provision for payment of arrears for the remaining two years.
According to him, the pensioners started enjoying the 33% increase since 2013 , but it was the arrears that had been dragging which government had now spread its payment to three years.
The Chairman noted that the National Salaries and Income and Wages Commission in late 2014, released a circular in which it was clarified that the arrears due to pensioners was only 33%, due to the huge financial outlay of the arrears and the scarce resources available.
He said, “The money will be released in quarterly tranches starting from first quarter of 2015, until the arrears are defrayed. I am happy to inform you that the board has received the first release of the funds and payment to all affected retirees has been completed for the first quarter of 2015. The action of the government in this regard underscores her great concern to the welfare of retirees.”