Retirees across the country have criticized state governors for tying the payment of pensions and gratuities to the removal of fuel subsidies.
The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) chapters in Delta, Cross River, Osun and Kano states in their separate statements reacted to the news that the governors were wrong to tie payment to the withdrawal of fuel subsidies.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), in a communiqué read by its Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, after its meeting on December 16, said the governors had resolved to include the settlement of all outstanding pension obligations as part of the social compact with citizens for the removal of fuel subsidies.
In an interview in Asaba, Mr. Antony Osanakwu, Vice Chairman, Association of Contributory Pension Scheme, Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Delta State Council, State, criticized the NGF on this.
“What is the relationship between our pensions and subsidies?” he inquired. Is it true that former governors’ pensions aren’t being paid? We served in the military for 35 years. Rather of paying our pensions, they say that when the subsidy is eliminated, our entitlement will be paid.”
Salisu Gwale, the chairman of the Kano State branch of the Nigeria Union of Retirees, also revealed that the state government owed pensioners N28 billion in pensions, gratuities, and death benefits.
Gwale responded that governors had no reason to suggest that they would clear backlogs of pensions when the fuel subsidy was removed because they were still working on capital projects.
“We have been paid up till October,” Eyo Eyo, Chairman of the NUP, Calabar Branch, remarked. For November and December, we have not been paid.”
The Osun State Chairman of the NUP, speaking on the matter, rejected the withdrawal of the subsidy as a condition for payment of retirees.
He stated that the withdrawal of subsidies should not be a prerequisite for the payment of pensioners, as such a condition was never connected to the payment of severance packages for politicians.
“We all know the spiral effect that removing subsidies will have on the population,” he remarked. We consider it a “hide and seek” game if they declare such is the condition. Is there a clause that applies if a politician leaves office without being paid? It’s a game of hide and seek, and we’re not going to let them hide behind subsidy reduction.