By Kingsley Omonobi – Abuja
Following the decision by retired military veterans to embark on a Nationwide protest next week over the non-payment of debarment allowances, the federal government has declared that the group of retired military personnel clamouring for the allowance, are not entitled to it.
Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi made the clarification at a meeting he held with representatives of the retired veterans in Abuja.
Disclosing that debarment allowance is meant for officers and soldiers who are retiring in the present, the minister said, “It is a retiring allowance”.
Throwing more light while clarifying the allowance, he said the laws stipulating it’s a payment to retiring soldiers were not made in retrospect.
“Consequently, Personnel who retired before the law was signed are not entitled to the allowance”.
The Defence minister however approved that a committee be set up to look at some concerns raised by the veteran groups
Recall that following their determination to ensure that the federal government fulfil the obligation of payment of the debarment allowance of retired military personnel especially the officer cadre, retired military personnel have fixed Thursday next week, 13 August 2020, for their nationwide protest.
According to a Press Statement by the Coalition of Concerned Veterans CCV spokesman, Abiodun Durowaiye-Herberts, all retirees were reminded of the efforts made so far on the controversial disbursement of Debarment allowance and the ‘disappointment achieved so far in the circumstance’
Durowaiye-Herberts said, “Comrades, you would all recall the most responsible approach we adopted in seeking an audience with the Hon Minister of Defense (HMOD) in other to address the ongoing controversial disbursement of Debarment allowance to a very few sections of members of the Veterans Community, as well as other welfare matters, but all efforts to pursue our welfare demand seem to have failed with no other option left.”
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“Finally, 13th August 2020 has been officially announced as commencement date by CCV leaders. The decision was jointly taken by the CCV Executives to allow for enough time for rest of comrades after the Sallah break before mobilizing members across the country for full participation in the exercise.”
“Consequently, after extensive discussion and opinion shared by leaders of the Coalition of Concerned Veterans as well as other stakeholders, we have unanimously come up with the following guidelines to be fully complied with, by all participating State Chapters of CCV across the Country.”
“All State Excos are to mobilize members for full participation in the forthcoming peaceful protest across the country and in full compliance as will be directed by the central body of CCV in the course of the exercise.
“Participating States are directed to nominate only one Spokesperson that will be expected to speak to members of the press on behalf of the State Chapter all through the exercise.
The statement noted that letters to Mr. President through Various State Governors shall originate from CCV Headquarters and shall be delivered to State Governors by the State Chapter Chairmen or State Coordinators as the case may be.
“Similarly, letters to all security agencies, informing them of the planned peaceful protest will also originate from the CCV Headquarters for uniformity”.
The statement added that all letters addressed to the Commander-in-Chief and all security agencies will be endorsed by key leaders of participating State Chapters including the CCV President.
“To properly manage the protest, branded T-Shirts with faze cap, bearing the names of participating associations under CCV will be the official dress code (and a must for the Exco members), for the exercise with members of the State Exco visibly seen leading protesting Veterans with close observation against infiltrators.
Coalition leaders also reportedly agreed that “ to maintain a peaceful protest, we must avoid blocking of traffic as doing so may attract no sympathy, but anger from the populace. Preferably, do a sit-down protest with good logistics provision. This might give the event more credibility while ensuring good security by being very vigilant to avoid hooligans taking over the show.”
Meanwhile, investigations have revealed that the federal government through the Military Pensions Board commenced the payment of the outstanding three (3) months balance of areas owed military pensioners in the country in July 2020, which is one of the issues of contention by the retired military personnel
It was gathered that the payment of the outstanding three months arrears of pension increment to retired military personnel which at a time rose to 14 months arrears, is in fulfilment of Federal Government’s drive to improve the welfare of military pensioners in the country.
It was further gathered that the payment to the military pensioners which was done in batches commenced in January 2020.
While the first instalment of six months was paid in January 2020, the next instalment of five months was paid in April of 2020 while the payment of the remaining three months of the 14 months arrears commenced in July 2020.
The clearance of the arrears of 14 months pensions increment by the Military Pensions Board under the leadership of Major General AB Adamu in a period of eight (8) months, has been described as “unprecedented” by some retired military personnel who further expressed hope that the Debarment allowances will be paid in no distant time.