Retirees intensify protests over unpaid pensions, gratuities
Government retirees in some states in Nigeria have staged several protests since the beginning of the year to demand the payment of backlog of their pensions and gratuities.
Several states are battling cash crunch, which has affected their ability to pay workers’ salaries and settle pensions and gratuities of their senior citizens.
From January this year to date, pensioners have staged demonstrations in Imo, Ogun, Edo, Oyo, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Delta, Osun and Plateau states.
Recently, hundreds of pensioners who retired from the service of the Edo State Government took to the streets in protest of 42 months’ pension arrears.
The senior citizens claimed that most of them who retired from the service between 2013 and 2016 were yet to be paid their gratuities.
A protester held a banner, which read, ‘Edo Pensioners are more Displaced Internally than the IDPs’.
“The state government had delayed the payment of arrears of pension ranging from 10 to 42 months as a result of which pensioners have been groaning in penury and pains,” the spokesman of the retirees, Mr Gabriel Osemwenkha, lamented.
The situation was no better in Imo State where a pensioner reportedly slumped during a recent retirees’ protest that ground commercial activities in Owerri, the capital.
The Imo State chairman of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), Chief G. Ezeji, lamented that the government owed the civil service pensioners 16 months, from February 2015 to May 31, 2016.
Ezeji also lamented that “The Imo State pensioners are still receiving pensions based on Chief Olusegun Obasanjo minimum wage of N7,500 awarded on 2000.”
Similarly, retirees in Ogun State, not long ago, staged a protest at the entrance of the finance commissioner’s office over what they called “failure in payment of entitlements.”
In Oyo State, the retirees, armed with placards, recently converged from all the geopolitical zones of the state to protest what they described as “the insensitivity of the state government to their plights.”
The state chairman of NUP, Chief Gbadegesin Akande, disclosed that the state government was owing pensioners their monthly pensions since the beginning of 2016.
Akande also alleged that over 4,000 pensioners have been removed from the monthly payroll of the state.
In Bayelsa, retirees early this year defied fears and took their protest to the Government House over unpaid five months arrears of entitlements.
“We have not been paid our pension for five months now and some of us have not received their gratuity at all, the Bayelsa government should pay us our money,” the union’s caretaker committee chairman, Mr Bodi Amarah, said.
The protest fever caught up with Bauchi State when recently retirees stormed the office of the state accountantgeneral to protest the delay in the payment of their pension.
The zonal chairman of the NUP, Bauchi South, Alhaji Adamu Ibrahim, reportedly told reporters that more than 7,000 retirees were yet to receive their February pension as at the time of their protest.
In Delta State, pensioners used the 2016 Workers’ Day to vent their anger over nonpayment of their pensions and gratuities by the state government.
Brandishing placards, the pensioners staged a protest at the government house on Anwai Road.
The spokesperson of Association of Contributory Retirees (ACR), Mr. Vincent Nkenchor, lamented the inability of the state government to key fully into the contributory pension scheme.
He said the state had failed to use 5 percent of its monthly wage bill of employees to open retirement benefits bond redemption fund account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The delay in the payment of retirement benefits by the state government to contributory pension retirees for over six years has resulted in many untimely deaths, poverty and mass indebtedness lenders and disclosed.
In Osun State, retirees in a group also recently staged a protest over arrears of seven months unpaid pensions.
A statement signed by the group’s chairman and secretary, Comrades Gbenga Oyeleke and Sola Olojede respectively, indicated that they had lost some of their members to death due to hardship.
A similar protest had been staged at the commissioner for information’s office in Jos, Plateau State, over pensioners’ unpaid entitlements.
The retirees lamented that delays in payment of their entitlements was leading several of their colleagues to their early graves.
Daily Trust had reported earlier that states had continued to have challenges with paying retirees their benefits because years after the introduction of the CPS in Nigeria, many states are yet to start remitting pension contributions to it.
Investigations revealed that only Lagos, Osun, Ogun, Kaduna, Zamfara, Niger, Delta and Rivers states have commenced remittance of pension contributions of their workers under the scheme.
The National Pension Commission blamed the development on inadequate awareness of the operation of the contributory pension scheme, lethargy in compliance by states, associated costs of migration to the CPS, low wages resulting in so low accumulation of benefits in the RSA, resistance by labour and fears by top level civil servants.
As a way out of the problem, the Pension Reform Act, 2014 (PRA 2014) has made it compulsory for the states and local governments in the country to join the CPS, unlike the repealed Pension Reform Act, 2004 (PRA 2004), which did not cover employees at the state and local government levels.
The Director-General of PenCom, Chinelo AnohuAmazu, in a conference in Abuja said CPS is the way out for states. to money landlords,” he
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