By Gilbert Ekezie
The 1991 retirees of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) have cried out to the Acting Managing Director of the authority, Mr Mohammad Koko and the Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi to intervene in the implementation of gratuity, pension and redundancy benefits owed them since thirty years ago.
Spokesman of the aggrieved retirees, Engr. Sylva Okoro made the appeal in Lagos on Sunday during the meeting organised by the group.
He decried the corruption and embezzlement going on in NPA, and how the ousted Managing Director of the authority, Mrs Hadiza Bala Usman is being accused of cornering government’s money for her personal use , instead of using it to pay the retirees since 1991.
Okoro expressed disappointment that for not paying the retirees as at when due, the management of NPA has put the helpless retirees into untold hardship for about 30 years.
“The suspended MD of NPA, Usman who is presently facing a panel of enquiry by the EFCC for embezzlement of funds, has put the 1991 retrenched workers into untold penury and hardship, and majority of us have died, due to lack of financial resources to adequately manage our peculiar health conditions and inability to meet our family responsibilities.”
He said, in an effort for the 1991 retirees to get their money, they have written appeal letters to the suspended NPA, Managing Director, Mrs Bala Usman since December 2020, but she ignored all the appeals , but chose to steal money meant to pay us. The second letter for the NPA to pay us was from the Court of Appeal. Also, NPA failed to file her brief of argument in opposition to our claims on the Motion of on Notice filed by our lawyer, in excess of the period stipulated by the ruling of the court.”
According to him the Appeal Court who supposed foreclosed the matter against NPA, is seen to be sleeping due to corruption, while the retirees are denied their full right of pension. “It is unfortunate that NPA has disobeyed the Supreme court judgment, Senate directives and Ministers letter, thereby suffering the retirees. Is it when we are dead that the money will be paid to us, then, we enjoy it in grave?”
Okoro claimed that while the retirees are in service, they were not found wanting for anything , either stealing or destroying NPA property to justify the punishment they are receiving. “We were obedient servants and highly dedicated to our duties to enhanced productivity to the best of our ability before we were compulsorily retrenched and served with letter of determination of appointment individually, on 10th of June 1991, without full payment of our pensions and other benefits. Those heads of department who said we should not to be paid our pensions, should know that there is God, none of those General Managers knows how their own day will be. We wonder why the punishment should be met on us, after working for Nation diligently for many years.”
He therefore called on the acting Managing Director of NPA, Mr Mohammad Koko, who before his new appointment, was occupying the position of Executive Director, Finance in NPA to look into the matter , and use his good office to ensure and facilitates the immediate payment of the 1991 retirees’ pension, gratuity and Redundant benefits, without further delay, having served the NPA meritoriously.
Okoro also seeks the intervention of the Minister of Transportation, Mr Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for the full implementation of the pension, gratuity and redundancy benefits owed the retirees. “The court order that NPA should pay us, should be respected. It will be in record in this country and honour to the Minister of Transport, Amaechi to help implement our entitlements, this time the retirees are subjected to poverty and untold hardship. We are left by NPA to die one by one, after working for our dear nation. As it is, many of us are dead, while many are on sick bed, without money to take care of ourselves. In fact, we will not forget the gesture.”