Pensioners demand their pension from FG

 Matthew Otoijagha

The Association of Retired Federal Senior Public Officers of Nigeria has called on the Federal Government to pay the pension arrears of its members and address other pending issues.

During a press briefing in Lagos, the Chairman, ARFESPON, Olufemi Odewabi, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to help the pensioners out of their unpleasant situation. “Many pensioners die daily due to their financial incapability to buy their medication and others,” he said.

Odewabi recalled that there was a presidential order on the increase in salary in 2010, but while the increase was affected for serving government workers, the law mandating the implementation of pension increase had not been fully implemented.

He complained that under the immediate past administration, a committee was set up to review the presidential order, after which it came up with an unacceptable report and reduced the payable increase to pensions to 33 per cent from 53.4 per cent. According to him, if there is an increment in salaries and pensions, the illegal deduction of tax will affect the computation of that increment, whereby the pensioners will be perpetually short-changed.

He argued that the premise at which pensions had always been calculated had been wrong. “We are begging the present government to see to the plight of the pensioners. Nobody is happy when death is close and your dues are not paid. It is as if government is praying for our death.  We have heard some of them say pensioners are not productive, they don’t add to the economy of the country,” he added.

Odewabi called on the government to pay the outstanding 12 months of the 33 per cent increase, pay the illegally deducted 20.4 per cent of the increment from July 2010 till date, and place the computation of pension on the payable salaries of the serving workers to avoid further disparity, as the constitution stated that it should be paid on time.

The association also urged the government to stop illegal deduction of the check-off dues monthly from civil service pensioners. “The pension Act is against it. Pension is not a trade and no union can legally come out of it nor any pensioner be forced to join. The deduction is made without the consent of pensioners,” Odewabi added.

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