September 22, 2020

Pensioners protest in Ogun, reject Govt proposed N500 million quarterly defray

James Ogunnaike

Retirees in Ogun State under the aegis of Nigeria Union of pensioners (NUP), on Tuesday staged a peaceful protest to register their grievances against what they described as government insensitivity to their plights.

The protesting pensioners were armed with placards with various inscriptions: “We say a big no to the killers of pension reform”, “Gratuities are not meant for burial expenses,” “33.4% pension increment is statutory, implement it now”, ” N5,000 minimum pension is humiliating, increase our pension”, “Pay our gratuity to provide succour for our jobless children”, “Reserve the obnoxious pension bill now”, N2billion annual releases takes 34 years to offer N68billion debt, so a 60 years pensioner will take gratuity at 94 years. Abomination”

Addressing newsmen, the Chairman of the NUP, Comrade Waheed Olayiwola Oloyede said the union rejected the proposal of Governor Dapo Abiodun to release N500million quarterly to offset outstanding gratuities. suggesting release of N1billion monthly as against the N500million.

Oloyede insisted that with the N500million, it would take the State 34 years to clear the outstanding N68billion arrears.

The State government had on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to earmark N500million for the clearance of gratuities of pensioners in the State.

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Oloyede said, “We demand for immediate payment of gratuities for State retirees from 2014 to date and Local Government retirees from September 2011 to date.

“Although the government has agreed to make a quarterly release of N500,000,000, monthly from January, 2021. This proposal is not acceptable to us as it would take 34 years to offset the outstanding N68billion arrears, rather we would suggest N1billion monthly release by the government.”

The pensioners also demanded the immediate implementation of the 33.4 percent increase in pension, lamenting some of them still earn paltry sum of N5,000 as pension.

“We demand for immediate implementation of the provisions of the circular on 33.4% increase in pension that was issued in 2010. We also demand for Conventional Review/Increase in pension in consonance with the provision of section 210 (3) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

“It is unfortunate that salaries and wages had been reviewed severally without pension review.

“It is very disheartening that majority of pensioners are on N5,000 monthly pension in Ogun State, an amount which is not enough to feed the dogs of an elite in one day. This is the reason we have been calling for pension review /increase in the state.

“Having served our dear State diligently and meritoriously to the best of our abilities for 35 years or thereabout, we do not deserve this worst humiliation from the unconcerned politicians who spent only few years, take full pay and disengage with mouthwatering severance allowances.

“We call on Governor Dapo Abiodun to do the needful now and don’t allow himself to be used by psychopants to bring his government to disrepute. It is also pertinent to call on Mr Governor not to indulge in communication gap between the unions and the government.”