From Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The President of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Dr Abel Afolayan, has disclosed that the union will embark on a mass protest in Abuja on Friday morning to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
Dr Afolayan, who made the announcement on Wednesday after the union’s 11th quadrennial delegates conference in Abuja, said the union has issued an ultimatum to the federal government on the protest.
‘We are protesting because they refused to release the letter of pension increment, consequential upon the minimum wage and salary adjustment to workers, two years after that was done,’ he said.
‘The welfare of pensioners are still terrible. The pensioners are not being treated well at all. Many pensioners are suffering. Some earn as low as N5,000 and they are not being paid as and when due. Even as we speak now the pension increase, consequential upon the national minimum wage and salary adjustment is yet to be effected, two years after those of the workers have been done.’
Also speaking, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said government was mindful of the sacrifices and contributions of retirees and is committed to taking necessary steps to address issues that bother them.
The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Yerima Peter Tarfa, admitted that the lingering issue of consequential adjustment of pensions for Nigerian pensioners has been overdue since 2019 when the new Minimum Wage Act was signed.
He promised that the ministry is takinh the lead in ensuring that the review is achieved.
Ngige commended the outgoing national executives of the Pensioners’ Union for their doggedness and will-power with which they piloted the affairs of the union in the last four years.
Listing some of their achievements, the minister mentioned ‘the successful inauguration of the Contributory Pension Sector at national level; the pursuit for the implementation of 33 per cent pension increase and full payment of 42 months pension arrears; and the pursuit for the release of N45 billion to settle pensioners of the defunct Nigerian Airways, amongst others.’
In his address, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, lamented the plight of pensioners in the country, adding that the condition of pensioners was lamentable.
‘In all the sectors of Nigeria economy, it is the efforts and hardwork of pensioners that ensured the successes of Nigeria today. I call on governments to prioritise the payment of pensioners as at when due. The issue is not of fund to pay but priority. Imo State remain the worst in payment of pension,’ he said.