Amidst poor pension and unpaid benefits to the nation’s senior citizens, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has demanded an immediate upward review of minimum pension in line with Section 173 of Nigeria’s Constitution.
While lamenting the plight of pensioners in the country at the National Executive Council, NEC, meeting, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, a few days ago, contended that the nation’s constitution clearly demanded for a review of minimum pension every five years.
According to him: “We are also mindful of national minimum pension for our pensioners. Section 173 of Nigeria’s Constitution demands review of minimum pension every five years. This must be dutifully complied with.”
Recall that the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, had for years now been pleading with the Federal Government to approve a National Minimum Pension for pensioners.
The NUP which lamented that some pensioners were earning as little as N4,000 monthly as pension, backed their demand with sections 173 (3) and 210 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which states that “pensions shall be reviewed every five years or together with any Federal Civil Service salary reviews, whichever is earlier.”
Speaking in Abuja, NUP president, Dr Abel Afolayan recalled that the last pension review was in July 2010 and a new review should have been due in July 2015.
He said: “Despite our efforts and submissions, nothing has been done in compliance with the above constitutional provisions. This is the reason why the union has been very vocal and unrelenting in restating its position on the call and demand for a new minimum pension alongside the on-going negotiation for a new minimum wage which by all indications, will soon be implemented by the Federal Government.
“It is, therefore, our humble request, in accordance with the above constitutional provisions that a uniformed national minimum pension be approved for Nigerian pensioners to be the same as any minimum wage. In other words, whatever amount is approved as minimum wage for workers, should also apply as minimum pension for pensioners.
“We believe that whatever is good for the goose is also good for the gander, as both workers and pensioners go to the same market for their daily needs. Regrettably and pathetically too, many pensioners today earn as low as N4, 000 per month which is nothing to write home about. With the present economic situation in the country, it is unacceptable and in fact, inhuman for a pensioner to earn less than N30, 000 which is not even enough to cater for his needs.”
Also, retired Federal Civil Service workers under the Defined Benefits Scheme, DBS, had demanded adjustment in their pension payment to reflect the new N30,000 national minimum wage already being implemented in the Federal Civil Service.
National Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Pensioners, Sunday Omezi, expressed dismay that government had contrary to provisions of the Constitution, not reviewed their pensions since 2010.
He said it was unfortunate that the retirees were not factored into the consequential adjustment negotiation arising from the new minimum wage.
Omezi in a statement , insisted that it was time government harmonised pensions of its workers just as it did in the military in January 2019.
He regretted that some pensioners were still receiving paltry N4,000 monthly pensions, urging the government to increase pension to a minimum of N25,000 against the N4,000 in place at the moment.
He said: “We appeal to the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, harmonise our monthly pensions. They have harmonised military pensions. Military pensions were harmonised in January 2019. We expected the government to equally harmonise the pensions of civilians. But they don’t want to harmonise ours. That is why we said they have taken us as second class citizens.
“Also, in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Federal Government is supposed to be reviewing our monthly pensions every five years.
“The last one they did was in 2010. It was due for another review in 2015 which was not done. In 2019, workers’ salaries were increased and the Constitution says they are supposed to review our monthly pensions every five years or whenever workers’ salaries are increased but nothing is happening.”