Accuse NELMCO, PTAD of inflicting pains on 15,000 senior citizens
By Ozioruva Aliu
After several letters, complaints and even appeals failed to convince those concerned to pay their benefits, pensioners of the defunct National Electricity Power Authority/Power Holding Company of Nigeria, NEPA/PHCN, are resorting to street protests to draw the government and general public to their plight.
The latest of such protests was in Benin City, Edo State, where the ex-workers of NEPA/PHCN, from the South-South geo-political zone, trooped into the streets of Benin City to protest and denounce non-payment of benefits to over 15,000 members nationwide after their disengagement PHCN.
The aggrieved pensioners claimed they had been denied harmonisation of arrears amounting to N14,305,479,450.47, monetisation arrears of N7,072,029,674.96, the year 2000 retirees and other arrears amounting to N3,037,607,883.08 and electricity rebate of N992,178.121.00 totaling N25,332,295,129.51.
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They accused the Nigerian Electricity Liability Company, NELMCO; the company that first handled their pensions and the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, which is now handling it, of inflicting untold pains without reasons.
Displaying various placards to express their grievances the protesting senior citizens blocked the entrance to the building housing PTAD in Benin City, preventing other users of the building from carrying out their duties.
Spokesman for the protesters, Monday Adodo, said NELMCO was in charge of benefits until it was transferred to PTAD for settlement.
According to him “a letter was sent in 2017 to the immediate past Executive Secretary of PTAD, Sharon Ikeazor for necessary action but no payment has been made since then. Ikeazor promised that all pensioners would be paid at the end of the verification exercise. Now that the verification is completed we are yet to see any change. Instead of positive results, some pensioners’ names are being removed from the payroll. Mr. President, as much as we are aware of your disposition and concern for pensioners’ welfare nationwide, we strongly appeal to you to also look at that of NEPA/PHCN pensioners.”
He lamented that over 15,000 members NEPA/PHCN retirees nationwide had been depleted by avoidable deaths while many were bedridden, saying “Our coming out is as a result of abandonment. We are appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to come to our rescue. We have been pensioned for a very long time, we have been deceived for a very long time, we have been given different figures for a very long time and they have been telling us that we are entitled to benefits we have not seen.
“In 2000, some people were retired as I speak to you today; they are yet to get their benefits. Some have died; some have developed stroke and other ailments. How can somebody retire and his or her gratuity and pension are not given to him.
“When they privatized the organisation, they did not privatise transmission company of Nigeria, TCN. We expected that they should transfer our pensions to Transmission Company but instead, they took us to NELMCO which was managed by a retired staff of NEPA and before then, our pension was no longer regular. We cried out and our pension was transferred to PTAD. We got these figures for our standing benefits from NEMLCO. But PTAD is only paying us our pensions and has refused to pay these other liabilities. We have written several to PTAD, they have not answered us. They are also quiet about our 33 per cent increment for pensioners.
“Surprisingly, PTAD came for verification to know those that are alive, to know those that are dead, know those that are ghosts. They carried out this screening, they collected our data: the first date of appointment, last date of employment, last increment only for you to now start removing the same people who came physically for the verification. PTAD is paying other parastatals their 33 per cent but they said PHCN is not entitled to it.
“Our appeal today is that President Muhammdu Buhari should intervene. There are discrepancies in the harmonization. There are people of the same level but they are not being paid the same amount. The President has zero-tolerance for corruption, so we want him to investigate how the harmonisation was done to the extent that some people earn more than others of the same level”