Southwest retirees protest non-payment of pension increase
By Tayo Johnson
Pensioners in the Southwest protested yesterday the non-payment of their pension increase. The peaceful protest was held on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) premises at Agodi Gate in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. The pensioners, under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), sang solidarity songs and carried placards reading: “State governments should implement the six per cent and 15 per cent increment”; “Jonathan stop pension fraud”; “Harmonise pension of old and new pensioners”; “Pensioners are dying of hunger” and “Jonathan save our souls”, among others. Southwest NUP Chairman Nojeem Ibrahim noted with bitterness that with the exception of a few, governors have not treated pensioners well. He lamented that Lagos State owes pensioners three years of the 142 per cent increase, which should have been paid since 2000. Ibrahim said: “As rich as Lagos is, the policy of the state government is to starve its pensioners of their entitlements. While other state governments have implemented the six per cent and 15 per cent pension increase, the Lagos State government has not given it a glance. “A few days ago, pensioners in Osun State protested the non-payment of the 142 per cent pension arrears, as well as the six per cent and 15 per cent increase arrears.” He said pensioners in Ogun, Ekiti and Oyo states were yet to be paid the six per cent and 15 per cent increase arrears. Ibrahim said the six states in the Southwest owe pensioners billions of naira in gratuities as a result of the Federal Government’s withdrawal from the payment of the five per cent counterpart fund to local government pension boards. He urged the three tiers of government to address the problem.
NUP National President Dr. Abel Afolayan decried the exclusion of the union from the National Conference.
Afolayan, who was represented by the Southwest NUP Vice-President, Lateef Adegoke, said the government sidelined the union for the Council of Retired Permanent Secretaries, adding: “As the only union registered and approved by the Ministry of Labour and Productivity for Nigeria civil pensioners/retirees, it was expected that our union, rather than the Council of Retired Federal Permanent Secretaries, should nominate delegates to the conference.
“But, to our dismay, the Council of Retired Permanent Secretaries nominated the six delegates representing retirees at the conference. It is our conviction that our union should have been consulted on this matter because we are the major stakeholders representing Civil Service retirees/pensioners.”