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Pensioners Threaten to Embark on Nationwide Protest

Nigerian Pensioners under the auspices of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) have threatened to shut down the operation of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) and other agencies of government responsible for the delay in their payment if the government failed to pay the balance of their 33 percent pension increase within 21 days.

Addressing a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja, National President of the Union, Dr. Abel Afolayan said the leadership of the union can no longer contain the anger of its members that have been spoiling for a showdown with the government.

Afolayan said “The payment of the balance of  this arrears is long overdue. We had made several submissions and appeals at different fora to the federal government  through PTAD for this payment but to no avail.

“The leadership of the union therefore can no longer contain the anger of its members who have been spoiling for a show down with the federal government over the non-payment.

“Consequently,  and having been pushed to the wall, we are compelled to issue a 21-day ultimatum to PTAD in compliance with the extant labour laws after which if no payment is made,  pensioners would embark on a protest to picket PTAD and other relevant offices connected with this payment.

“I do hope that immediate action would be taken to effect the payment in order to make such a course of action unnecessary, and as a mark of respect for us the elderly and senior citizens of this country.”

While commending the Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed for releasing N22.4bn to settle the long-awaited pension liabilities of the defunct Nigeria Airways Staff in liquidation, he wants the government to ensure that pensioners are given equal treatment t with workers in arriving at a new minimum wage for the country.

“This gesture has in no small measure put smiles on the faces of the beneficiaries. Equally, this gesture goes to attest to the fact that the federal government under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is indeed a listening government.”

He said further that there was the need the union to press for the consideration and approval of the National Minimum Pension for pensioners by the federal government alongside the on-going negotiation for  the approval and  implementation of a National Minimum Wage  for Nigerian workers.

He said “Suffice it to say our request is in line with the provisions of sections 173 (3) and 210 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which unambiguously states that “pensions shall be reviewed every five years or together with any Federal Civil Service salary reviews, whichever is earlier”. The last pension review was in July 2010. The next one, in line with the provision of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) was due  in July 2015.

“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.

“We would like to emphasize again that  whatever is finally approved as the national  minimum wage should equally  apply to pensioners as national  minimum pension with a  corresponding circular,  clearly stating  minimum pension (QED),  and  not  after the release of the minimum wage circular the union would  begin to run helter skelter in pursuance of  the release of the pensioners circular as experienced  in the case of the  2010 minimum wage  and pension review.

“It is also important and imperative  to add here  that  state governments should take a cue  from  the federal government  that whatever  is the final agreement reached  by the tripartite committee as minimum wage, same should apply to all state pensioners as minimum pension in accordance with section 210 (3) of the 1999 Federal  Constitution (as amended).

“For justice and fairness, and in line with the spirit and letter of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, sections173 (3) and 210 (3),   minimum wage and minimum pension should be the same. This is our position, this is our demand.”

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