By Rotimi Ojomoyela – Ado-Ekiti
The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to approve free medical treatments for them who are 70 years and above across the country.
National President of the union, Dr Abel Afolayan made the appeal on Wednesday in his address in Ado-Ekiti to commemorate this year’s Pensioner’s Day.
Speaking through the NUP chairman in the state, Mr Ayo Kumapayi, he explained that offering free medical treatment to retirees would enhance their standard of living.
He regretted that many pensioners have lost their lives as a result of inability to access adequate health care.
Afolayan said, ” Free healthcare is a very important welfare package for us considering our contributions to national development. The labour of our heroes past should not be allowed to be in vain.”
“The Union will very much appreciate if President Buhari-led administration whose mantra of change has been globally acknowledged can approve the creation of a full-fledged Ministry of Pension and Senior Citizens Affairs like the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development was created.
“This Ministry, if created, will cater adequately for the welfare of pensioners, old people and senior citizens throughout Nigeria as it is practised in developed countries of the world.
“Closely related to this request is the retention and strengthening of National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD). We request that these two pension agencies (the former in charge of Contributory Pension Scheme and the latter in charge of the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) be retained and strengthened as parastatals under the proposed Ministry.
“One major problem compounding our members’ agonizing situation which we would like to plead with the Buhari administration to look into passionately is the Federal Government’s failure to pay regularly their 5% counterpart fund into the local government fund which was started as prescribed by government but stopped sometimes ago without just cause whatsoever.
“This stoppage has been adversely affecting regular payment of monthly pensions to the Local government pensioners and primary school pensioners who are being paid from this fund.
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“It is a tripartite funding by the three tiers of government. We plead with the Federal government to direct for strict compliance with this counterpart funding. We hope the Federal Government will lead the way by showing the example and paying its share of the counterpart funding.”
He pleaded with government to make the payment of pensioners allowances first line charge by ensuring early payment of pensions before payment of workers’ wages as a mark of honour and respect for the senior citizens while he equally called for appointment of retirees into political offices.
“There are many members of our Union who were retired prematurely for various reasons before reaching retirement age or before serving for 35 years as required by the Labour Law/Pensions Act. We wish to request that this category of pensioners and many elderly members of the Union who are still capable should be considered for appointment at the appropriate government establishment so as to tap from their wealth of experience. Such members can be given due consideration in appointing them to chairmanship and membership of Commissions, Boards and Parastatals,” Afolayan said.
While congratulating members on this year’s celebration, he assured that the union would continue to place more priority on their welfare towards getting their retirement benefits from the government.