The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), has urged the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), not to delist its members from its payroll over their inability to physically attend the nationwide biometric verification exercise.
Dr Abel Afolayan, NUP National President, said this during the 19th Edition of Pensioners Celebration on Friday in Abuja.
The theme of the celebration was, “Post COVID-19 Era: Making Life Better and Worth Living for Pensioners”.
“Sometime ago, we received a letter from PTAD in which it said that a large number of names would be deleted from its payroll because they have not attended the nationwide biometric verification exercises.
“This development was very worrisome to the union, so we quickly approached PTAD to give us time till the end of Oct. 2020 to look into the issue and take necessary corrective steps.
“We shall continue to dialogue with PTAD on this very sensitive issue as it is absolutely necessary to exercise great caution.
“It will also ensure that PTAD is committed to making life better and not worse for our members after the COVID-19 scourge,” he said.
Afolayan however, expressed worry over the delay in the approval and payment of the increase in pension in relation to the recent wage increases for workers in the country .
He noted that the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, stated that pensions should be reviewed every five years or whenever workers wages are reviewed.
He regretted that pensioners had not fully benefited from the constitutional provision.
“Going by the provisions, pension was due for review in 2010 when workers wage was reviewed. After a long delay, it was decided by government that pensions should be increased by 33.4 per cent.
“Painfully enough, it took several months of agitation and representations before Federal government started implementing the decision.
“PTAD Executive Secretary has given us the assurance that all outstanding arrears, be it gratuity or pension arrears, will be fully paid before the end of December and we look forward to the fulfilment of this pledge,” he said.
He also noted that many state governments had yet to comply with the constitutional provision.
The NUP president also appealed to the Federal Government to approve national minimum pension, just like it approved the national minimum wage of N30,000 for workersHe added that NUP would approach the National Assembly to seek appropriate legislation for the approval of that demand.
Afolayan also frowned at the proposed borrowing plans of state governors from the pension funds which, he said, had appreciated over the years.
He warned that pensioners would not fold their arms and watch the depletion of their savings through borrowings.
“When they borrow the money, how do we guarantee the safety of the funds? We cannot guarantee the safety of the funds or the adequate returns on the investment.
“The money is for the workers today who will be pensioners tomorrow. We do not want a situation where these people will retire and they will tell us that there’s no money to pay them,” he added.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, President, Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC), called on state governments to obey the constitution of the land which they swore to, during their swearing-in ceremonies.
Wabba, who was represented by Mr Najim Yasim, NLC Deputy President, urged state governments to bear in mind that the senior citizens are aged men and women who had spent their productive years to create wealth for the country.
“We condemn in its entirety the insensitivity and inhuman treatment being meted out to pensioners in some states in relation to their pension entitlements,” he said.