March 4, 2024

We need money to buy drugs, pensioners lament; get N750.00 monthly in Osun

Pensioner faints, as Cross River retirees block Ayade's office over arrears

File photo for illustration: Pensioners protesting.

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

It is about tales of woe by members of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, as most of them can no longer afford essential drugs to keep them alive. 

The pathetic situation of the senior citizens especially those who retired from the state service who receive less than N1000  as monthly pension is better told than experienced.

A case at hand is a pensioner from Osun State, a 74-year-old man who receives as low as N337.73 monthly pension. 

Another pensioner from same state is paid N512.14, another N568.22, then N600.00 and N750.00. 

These are people who spent their productive lives serving their state.

This sad story is not peculiar to Osun State.

It is applicable to pensioners in Enugu State, incidentally the home state of the President of NUP, Godwin Abumisi. 

At least three pensioners who received their monthly pension through an old generation bank received as low as N547.47,  N949.00 and N1,560.32, while another that was paid through a community bank received N411.47 just less than one thousand a month.

Vanguard gathered that all these pensioners worked in Enugu State ministries. 

Those of local government and primary school pensioners are not better off. Some are paid N1.500.00 which they blame on the non-harmonisation of pension in the state since 2000. They informed that the state has not harmonised even the consequential adjustment of the 2019 N30,000. 00 minimum wage for pensioners. 

According to sources, Enugu State pensioners in state ministries have not received their gratuities since 2010, while those in local government and primary school pensioners have not received theirs since 2006 and their monthly pension since 2022. 

This tales of woe cuts across many states leading to untimely death of some of them whose pitiable conditions have been compounded by the current economic reality in the country.

The situation is so terrible that most of them cannot feed themselves and take care of their medications especially those with health challenges as a result of old age.

Commenting on their plight, the NUP President,  said: “A lot of us have died. Do you know that many people depend on pension to live? There are people who cannot attend to their health challenges unless they get money. Some people say pensioners have their children abroad. 

The people who have their children abroad are not the people I’m talking about. I’m not talking about the permanent secretaries, I’m not talking about directors. They are our members too, but I’m not talking about them. Which other group of pensioners can send their children overseas? 

 “Our children are not overseas. We don’t have anybody sending money back to us. We don’t have and by the time we leave the service, we are elderly and aged. 

Even farming becomes difficult. Sometimes to farm you need capital. These pensioners are not able to access available money set aside for farmers. They are not able anymore to till the land and cultivate. 

“We need money to buy our drugs. You cannot buy drugs and you can see the prices of drugs have skyrocketed. A drug I take amlodipine for my High Blood Pressure, BP, I used to buy it N6000 and above  a sachet. It is now N35,000 and above . And my daughter said to me, look, daddy, you have to go back to your doctor and ask him to change the drug. I said no. This is the drug that keeps me alive. When I take it, I relax I won’t have any problem. In fact, I don’t have any more pressures. I sleep very well. If you ask me to change this drug, what it means is that you are cutting my life shot. I will continue to take the drug but I have to go to government and say there are many pensioners like me, at least if they cannot give us food, they should give us our drugs so that we wait until our creator calls us.”

He blamed the plight of pensioners especially on non-payment of minimum wage to the senior citizens, on the federal government.

He said, “Section 173 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), says that pension shall be reviewed every five years or when the federal government reviews its own workers salary which ever is earlier. That is what the Constitution says. That section of the Constitution is not being implemented. In fact, all the sections relevant to pension are not being implemented. 

“If they increase pension every five years, the pension of our members will be adjusted. And if they have been adjusted I can tell you that some of our members who are poor earners, will come up to N100,000 that we are now demanding that should be our own minimum wage. But because these adjustments were not being made, as directed by the Constitution, that is why we are earning poorly. So our struggle is that they should begin to deal with pensioners, as it is in the constitution of the Federal Republic.

“If they were doing this, we will have no business complaining that the Nigerian pensioners are earning low because in every government’s new salary structure, pensions will be adjusted as directed by the Constitution. But this has not been done by various states and that is why states like Enugu and some others are earning less because their salaries over the years are not being adjusted. 

Look out for the full interview with the NUP, president, including the controversial Steve Orosanye report in our subsequent edition.

Vanguard News