The leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday called on Federal Government to comply with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) by ensuring constant review of pensions, every five years.
Wabba who gave the charge during the commemoration of World Pensioners’ Day held in Abuja, urged Nigerian workers, pensioners and their families to use their voting power during the forthcoming general elections.
He said: “The review of pension every five years is a constitutional provision you must uphold the provisions of our Constitution. I therefore ask government at all levels to respect the provisions of the Constitution because that is the panacea for peace and development.
“Once we don’t respect the provisions of our Constitution, then we are inviting anarchy where people will now resort to self-help. For any government to pay pension of N4,000 is not only injustice, but inhuman because there is no way N4,000 can take care of a pensioner for 30 days.
“I am aware that in states like Imo, the N4,000 is not even paid, but divided into two. That is something I think is very pathetic. If we want a better tomorrow for our country and address the issue of corruption, we must be able to take care of our pensioners and workers.
“President Obama said so very clearly that there is no way you can fight corruption if there is injustice in the system especially when the workers cannot take care of their families because they are not paid as and when due. This has forced people to do something to try and help themselves.
“Our country is so blessed that resources is not our problem. It is because few people have assisted themselves and looted what ought to be our common wealth and therefore living in affluence while dictating to us what should be our future. In any state where the government refuses to pay salaries, workers, pensioners and their families must unite and use every democratic process to make sure that we don’t give them any support.
“I have said it very clearly that, your voter’s card is your money. Where you keep your money should be the same place where you keep your voter’s card. If you don’t have that along with your family, it means that you have mortgaged your right and your future.
“We cannot be lamenting everyday, but stand up to protect our right as citizens. While we celebrate you for what you have done to this country, we must also continue to advance your issues because it is a pathetic situation and everybody must be concerned. If the situation remain the way it is now, I don’t know what tomorrow will look like. Therefore, we must be on our feet to defend our rights as workers and pensioners.
“Let me thank the President for being a special crusader for pensioners and workers. He has tried to look at the issue of pensioners and that of workers. That is how the issue of the bailout came about and most of them actually betrayed the trust of the President. It is not about giving them resources.
“You can continue to give them resources, but once there is no transparency and accountability, we will continue to be in the same quagmire. We are aware that they recently made commitment with the President to say that before the end of this year, every pensioner and workers will be paid.
“I must say that if these pronouncements are not followed up with action, we will continue to lament. Therefore, the social consequences of such situations will be grevious to our country.”
On his part, Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) reiterated Federal Government’s commitment towards improved welfare of pensioners across the country.
Mustapha who acknowledged the impact of the socio-economic challenges facing pensioners, assured that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is “unwaveringly poised” to reposition pension administration in the country in the bid to give pensioners the good quality life they deserve after retirement.
Boss who was represented by Roy Ugo, Permanent Secretary, General Services in his office, said: “Pensioners deserve better treatment and good life having served and retired meritoriously in the service of their father land. It is in this regard that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to the improvement of the welfare of pensioners in this country.
“Despite the challenges being experienced in pension administration in this country, government is unwaveringly poised to reposition pension administration in other to give pensioners the good quality life they deserve after retirement.
“Government is aware that hardship being faced by Nigerian Pensioners especially those that bothered on prompt payment of pension and is doing everything possible to correct the anomaly. It is never the intention of government to inflict hardship on its senior citizens.
“You will agree with me that PTAD has been working very hard to reposition pension administration. I therefore implore you to be patient with government. This administration is committed to moving the country forward and the faith and confidence that things will turn out good in the no distant time is not in doubt and so. We will continue to ask for you support, patience and encouragement.”
In his address, Abel Afolayan, NUP President tasked Federal Government to consider approving a minimum pension of N25,000 for pensioners in the country, saying Nigerian pensioners are poorly paid, with some of the, receiving less than N10,000 monthly.
He expressed displeasure with the non-inclusion of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners in the recently constituted National Minimum wage negotiation committee and called e committee to do justice to the issue of pension during their negotiations.
“We shall continue to pray for an improvement in our nation’s economy to enable government pay all the pension arrears. In this respect while commending PTAD for the good job they have done so far with the verification exercise, we would like to appeal that all arrears of pension and gratuity should be paid expeditiously as soon as pensioners verified data are keyed into PTAD data bank.”
He also urged President Buhari to prevail on State Governments during Council of States meetings which all State Governors attend to show more concern for pensioners.
He said it was rather unfortunate and lacking in patriotism that some governors use the bailout funds and Paris Club Refunds for purposes other than what they were intended for such as paying salaries and pension arrears. We sincerely believe this is a matter the President should seriously look into.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja