By Victor Ahiuma-Young
THOUGH report says the payment of the part benefits of the workers and pensioners of the defunct Nigeria Airways is yet to be completed, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, has pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to do everything possible to pay the ex-workers their remaining benefits.
President of NUP, Dr. Abel Afolayan, who made the plea while addressing pensioners during the Pensioners’ Day celebration in Abuja, said though the pensioners are very appreciative of President Buhari for the recent release of N22.4 billion to ameliorate the years of suffering of the former workers of the defunct national carrier, the pensioners would be happier if the President could pay the balance of the entitlements to make them live a better life.
According to him: “In the last one year, we have made considerable progress on the contributory Pensioners Sector. It is particularly important to mention that there has been some improvement in the release of accrued rights by the Federal Government. This has made possible the payment of entitlements due to the beneficiaries up to August 2017. We would like to implore the Federal Government to release more funds so that all affected contributory pensioners can be paid their accrued rights up to date and without any further delay. It is our hope that the 2019 Budget will totally take care of this problem.
“It is gratifying to mention also that we have taken a major step towards unionization of contributory pensioners by inaugurating a national executive for them. The executive has been challenged not to rest on their oars but to forge speedily ahead until equally functional executives are established in all the 36 states of the country and Abuja. In the near future, it is our hope that the Pension Reform Act 2014 will be revised in order to statutorily allow payment of check-off dues by these pensioners to solely run the affairs of their union.
Dr Afolayan said: “For years, the non-settlement of the severance and entitlements of the staff of the defunct/liquidated Nigeria Airways has posed a very serious problem which we have been making efforts to resolve with the Federal Government since 2009.
“I am greatly delighted to report that the Federal Government has released N22.4 billion to reduce if not totally ameliorate the years of suffering of these our members. We cannot but express our profound gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for being kind and magnanimous in seeing that this amount is released for the payment.
“This action has, no doubt, shown him to be a listening and compassionate leader in whom the milk of human kindness is flowing. We would humbly and passionately plead that the remaining balance of 50% be paid including whatever is due to the deceased members’ next-of-kins are settled expeditiously.”
On the counterpart funding for local government and primary school pensioners, the NUP president said: “We see it as one of our main challenges, the stoppage of 5% counterpart funding being paid by Federal Government to assist in paying monthly pension of Local Government and Primary School Pensioners.
“This stoppage has resulted in untold hardship for this category of pensioners. We humbly call on the Federal Government to resuscitate this funding to enable local governments pay.