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From cradle to grave

By Denrele Animasaun

‘You don’t have to wait for someone to treat you bad repeatedly. All it takes is once, and if they get away with it that once, if they know they can treat you like that, then it sets the pattern for the future’ -Jane Green

 

Last week, the social media was awash with credulous jubilations; it was as if there were a string of lottery winners and that they have won such amount worthy of such uproar. Alas, it was anything but that.

Protesting Oyo State retired teachers reviving a colleague who fainted during protest over unpaid benefits

It took many decades, far too long for long suffering pensioners to eventually be promised their pension pay-out. There was so many lame excuses, that there was no money to pay pension and salaries and at the same time, there was a lot of corruption and misappropriation amongst the high office holders, spending money as if it was going out of fashion.

Their behaviours has been criminal and with no conscience. The fact that many of our elderly have worked for years and contributed to their pension pot only then to retire and then not paid their gratuity.

In what other country would you work for years and not receive what is due to you? There is a name for work without pay, it is called slavery. You would have thought that slavery was abolished long time ago but it seems to be alive and thriving.

How on earth can these lawmakers sleep at night or face these pensioners, knowing full well that these are members of their constituents who have not been paid for years and decades.

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No, government or lawmakers cannot say ‘we are in it together’ and then vote themselves huge salary and a cushy pension pot.   In reality, the ordinary Nigerian is on his own and these poll looters are siphoning the commonwealth. No, we are not all in it together.

In the meantime, hardworking elders are living in abject poverty, unable to feed or access health care. The years that followed their tireless appeal to release their pension fell on deaf ears.

Many of these old pensioners have waited and some sadly died still waiting.

So, the news that at last, pensioners will now get their pension was met with a rapturous gratitude from millions of pensioners that have been owed their hard earned pensions by the government.

The questions is, will the government include and make reasonable adjustments regarding present inflated cost of living and essential foods which during the intervening years have reached the highest levels? So would the government then adjust the pension levels to include inflation and accrued interests for the intervening years? Or will they be paid the rate of pension of twenty years ago?

Having said this, so many of the pensioners are so grateful to be receiving their pension no matter how paltry.

Therein lays the paradox of the Nigerian.

This is the Nigerian condition: the self-abuse, pervading every strata and households. It is a cyclical condition-what is done to one, is then done to others and so it goes on and on.

Sadly, we have low expectation and self-worth, low self-esteem, despite not been what is due to them, they are simply thankful to the purse holder, that they at will now receive their pension.

The cynic in me, still thinks the promise of the pension is politically motivated and timed to get this rapturous response: ‘His Excellency has remained committed to pensioners’ welfare in spite the huge funding obligations facing the administration. For this reason, funds are released monthly into the RSA of employees, and also the accrued rights are gradually being cleared,” and : ‘in Lagos, about 9,804 have been paid their accrued pension rights of N40,245 billion, the Lagos State Pension Commissions’.

Of course, it was stressed: ‘LASPEC the release of the pension: ‘was in fulfilment of monthly pension settlement embarked upon by Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode’. There you have it. I do hope that many of the recipients do not forget the cause and  consequences of their hardship that they do not side with the oppressors because the government released the pension that was justly theirs in the first place.

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Please,  read in to that what you may. But I find this shocking tactics meted to the most vulnerable group in the country during their autumn years, scandalous and irreprehensible. This is cruel and callous in anyway shape or form. This is 2018 and people should be paid what they have worked for; this  slave and slavery mentality is what is holding the country back.

It is important that people know their worth and withholding people’s pay or pension is not smart nor is it right. It is downright criminal especially, when various administrations and its other arms are rubbing the pensioners ‘noses in it with their ostensible wealth this is truly barbaric and despicable.

From my archive Nigerian lawmakers’ greed -March 2018

Confession is good for the soul and somewhere, somehow, a Nigerian senator had surprisingly developed a conscience. Senator Shehu Sani revealed (actually, it is a known secret) that each senator receives 13.5m naira [£27,000, $37,500]. Quell surprise! He mentioned that there is no accountability on how the money allocated to the lawmakers is spent! He has, shock horror, called for the allowances to be scrapped, how insightful of this fellow, he tells us that there is little wonder why people chose to go into politics! How intuitive of him.

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I wish he could have told us something we do not know. He sure would not be very popular amongst his peers but credit to his new found conscience. We all know there is no honour amongst thieves and this group of people has been robbing the nation dry for so long and we all know it. This is one prolonged daylight robbery.

The poor senator, for whatever reason is unburdening his soul. The good senator continued: ‘The National Assembly is one of the most non-transparent organs of government. It pricked my conscience and I decided to burst the bubble and open the National Assembly to public scrutiny. If the expenses payment system was ended then parliament would only be attractive to people who contribute ideas. I think someone has developed a backbone. The good senator is not telling us what we do not know already, that there is money to be had in the hallowed halls of power and so little wonder, why everyone wants to be lawmakers in Nigeria.

It is shameful that 109 senators, each earning, pardon me, but there is nothing basic in a salary of $2,000 per month, where the average Nigerian is living on a paltry minimum of $50.0 per month. So, the greed of these lawmakers knows no bounds. What the good senator was alluding to was, on top of their not so basic salary, they also ‘claim each $37,000 per month for expenses, $5,500,000 yearly as constituency budget.

Shockingly, the Nigerian senator ‘earns’ a mouth-watering $5,974,000 per annum so, the 109 senators cost Nigeria a whopping $651,166,000! Let that sink in, if you will.

After serving two terms, a senator’s expense payments is well up to $3.5 million, little wonder why they fight tooth and nail to stay on!

‘Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks’—  Doug Larson


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.