President Muhammadu Buhari has said in Abuja that his administration has put a stop to what he called the dehumanization of federal pensioners by ensuring prompt payment of their entitlements and backlog of arrears.
He told a delegation of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners led by the acting president, Comrade Musa Ayuba Dallatu, at State House, Abuja, that retirees deserve timely payment of their emoluments, recognition, and respect for their work and dedication to the country during their active working years.
”In recent times pensioners were ignored, neglected and even persecuted. We have put a stop to that,” Buhari was quoted as saying by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
“As you yourselves have confirmed today, we have begun regular payment of monthly pensions and payment of backlog of arrears,” Buhari said and recalled that his administration recently released N45 billion accrued rights for the contributory pension scheme and N22.4 billion to start payment of ex-Nigeria Airways pensioners.
The Federal Government, he added, also bailed out the states with the Paris Club refunds to enable them address salary and pension arrears, while also authorizing schemes for the restoration of Niger Delta Steel Company, NITEL/MTEL and Biafra Police war veterans’ pensioners.
Reviewing the actions taken so far by the administration in connection with the pension industry, the President said the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) had saved N4.9 trillion per annum as a result of payroll clean-up under the civil service verification exercise.
He said that the directorate which supervised the payment of pension arrears to over 50,000 verified civil service pensioners, also oversaw the payment of N917.6 million to 432 war retirees.
According to the President, under his watch, PTAD completed full payment of N5.8 billion to police retirees in August 2018 while in November 2018, N13.7 billion was paid to parastatal retirees and N18 billion to civil service pensioners.
”These few examples testify to the government’s positive impact on pensioners’ lives. In addition, we achieved huge savings in budgetary provisions through the elimination of ghost and duplicated details.
We have restored qualified pensioners arbitrarily removed from the payroll, thus bringing succour and hope to senior citizens, thereby improving the confidence of the entire county in the government and its policies,” he said.
On the requests by the pensioners, including the implementation of the National Policy on Pension Parity and the National Policy on Social Security on Health and Other Related Matters of the Elderly, the President promised to do all within his powers to address them, subject to the availability of funds.
The leader of the delegation had also sought the President’s intervention on the five per cent counterpart funding for the payment of local government pensioners and retired primary school teachers which was arbitrarily stopped in 2010.
Comrade Dallatu appealed for the payment of outstanding pension arrears, gratuities and death benefits that have accrued over the years, among others. Noting that some pensioners receive as low as N2, 000 monthly, he urged the President to make the issue of national minimum pension for pensioners in tandem with the proposed national minimum wage for workers.
Commending President Buhari on the regular payment of pensions, Dallatu said, ”We are bold to say without fear or favour that you have made our lives better than you met it in so many areas, which among others include regular payment of monthly pensions.
”It is an incontestable fact that since the advent of this government under your able leadership, payment of monthly pensions has been more regular than ever. In fact, if the truth must be told, Mr. President Sir, we have never had it so good.”