Pen­sion and plight of mil­i­tary re­tirees

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

Mil­i­tary pen­sion­ers in Nigeria have suf­fered so much mal­treat­ment that they some­times won­der whether it was a mis­take to have en­rolled into ser­vice to de­fend the coun­try’s ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity, es­pe­cially those who fought the civil war to keep the coun­try united and are now too old to earn liv­ing bet­ter than the monthly pen­sion pack­age.

Any car­ing ob­server may how­ever agree that the fault may be in the bu­reau­cratic ad­min­is­tra­tive ma­nip­u­la­tion or in­ep­ti­tude rather than pol­icy fail­ure of govern­ment, since the con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion is clear and Pres­i­den­tial pro­nounce­ments on ap­proved pay in­crease have been loud and un­am­bigu­ous. It is note­wor­thy that though our con­sti­tu­tion al­lows pen­sion in­crease ev­ery five years, it took from 19992009 for an in­crease to be ef­fected in Novem­ber, with all the ar­rears paid by Late Pres­i­dent Musa YarAdua in June 2010, even when the benev­o­lent Late com­man­der-in-chief was no longer able to talk. May Almighty God con­tinue to grant him eter­nal rest. It is also note­wor­thy that Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan acted promptly in call­ing for speedy ac­tion on mil­i­tary pen­sions when he an­nounced gen­eral wage in­crease for the pub­lic ser­vice to take ef­fect from 1st July, 2010. This is, at least, ac­knowl­edged by the Co­or­di­nat­ing Min­is­ter for the Econ­omy and Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, re­ported by Daily Newswatch 7th Fe­bru­ary, 2014 Page 4 ac­cus­ing the Sen­a­tors of “Mis­in­form­ing Nige­ri­ans”.

Now, in April, 2014, even as the Hon­ourable Min­is­ter had de­clared since Fe­bru­ary, that the 2010 ‘Salary in­crease across the board to the pub­lic ser­vice, in­creased the wage bill from N856.9 bil­lion in 2009 to N1.36 tril­lion in 2010”, would the mil­i­tary pen­sion­ers and their sym­pa­thiz­ers be wrong in ask­ing some ques­tions? Firstly: Why did it take more than three years to ef­fect the in­crease for the mil­i­tary vet­er­ans in Au­gust, 2013? Sec­ondly: Why was only 33 per­cent added to their pay and not the whole ap­proved 53 per­cent? Thirdly: Why has NOT even one kobo of the ar­rears been paid to the mil­i­tary pen­sion­ers as at to­day? And lastly: Would the mil­i­tary pen­sion­ers be wrong to call in the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion (EFCC) and the Om­buds­man (Pub­lic Com­plaints Com­mis­sion) to get the pen­sions han­dlers to pay the ar­rears with in­ter­est? The com­man­der-in-chief surely needs to in­ter­vene so that the vet­er­ans will pray for him and all his cab­i­net mem­bers as we “fade away” one by one, since “Old Soldiers Never Die”. And fi­nally, even if the re­main­ing 20 per­cent is yet to be added, all who sur­vive will surely ex­pect an­other pen­sion in­crease by 1st July, 2015. Let any­one pray­ing to be Nigeria’s Pres­i­dent at that point in time take note! The con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides so and it will soon be due! Oh that the Nige­rian bu­reau­cracy at de­fence min­istry were sen­si­tive enough to pay the over 37 months ar­rears of mil­i­tary pen­sions.

Col Ubah John I Paul (re­tired), Kaduna

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