Pensioners Demand Inclusion in Proposed Distribution of Palliatives - 9japarrot


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Tuesday 25 July 2023

Pensioners Demand Inclusion in Proposed Distribution of Palliatives


By Nurat Uthman

Pensioners under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, on Monday appealed to the federal government to include its members in the proposed distribution of palliatives to cushion the economic hardship occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy.

The Pensioners also pleaded with government to consider them in the proposed six months tax-free payment to public servants as well as the payment of all outstanding liabilities to public and civil servants.

Briefing journalists in Abuja, the NUP President, Comrade Godwin Abumisi flanked by other members of the National Executive Council, NEC, of the union, said that the removal of fuel subsidy has further impoverished and pauperized the vulnerable Nigeria pensioners like other vulnerable group of persons who are struggling and battling for survival.

Although NUP commended President Bola Tinubu for taking the bull by the horn in the removal of fuel subsidy, it noted that the government appeared to have put the horse before the cart, adding that the first thing to be done before taking the decision was to put in place the necessary palliatives before removing the subsidy.

The senior citizens said in view of the ongoing discussion on the proposed palliatives which has taken the centerstage in the country, as critical stakeholders and an integral part of the society, they have to add their voices bearing in mind the vulnerability of their members.

The union in a prepared text read by its President said, “As the Tinubu-led Federal Government unfolds plans to cushion the economic hardship that the removal of the fuel subsidy has brought upon the people of Nigeria, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners as the statutory custodian as well as the voice of Nigeria pensioners across the length and breath of the country, wishes to categorically and unequivocally state and remind the Federal Government that pensioners must be included in the planned palliatives package, being one of the low-income earners in the country.

“There is no gainsaying that the removal of the fuel subsidy has further impoverished and pauperized the vulnerable Nigeria pensioners like other vulnerable group of persons in our society who are always struggling and battling for survival.

“It is on the above premise that the Union would like to make the following suggestions to the Federal/State/Local Governments as they roll out plans to mitigate the effects of the subsidy withdrawal:

“It is on record that the poorest of the poor in Nigeria today are resident in our rural communities where many families are not sure of a square meal in a day. It is also on record that there is no rural community in Nigeria, being it ward, village or hamlet that you cannot find pensioners/retirees who are struggling daily with poverty  and hunger, alongside the rural populace, due to low pension earnings or non-payment of their monthly pension or pending gratuity, and in most cases, backlog of arrears of their pensions.

" Given  the above scenario and for equitable reasons, if the Federal Government wishes to achieve its objective of the cash transfer to the poor, using the much touted social registers, it must consider the involvement and participation of those organized Unions/Associations that have the records/statistics (data base) of their members resident in both urban and rural areas, most especially the Pensioners’ Union (NUP), Market Women Organizations, the Physically Challenged Persons and other Professional Bodies.

“The leaders of the Unions/Bodies who are very visible could be easily held responsible and accountable in the event of any infractions or shortchanging of their members in accessing such funds.

“Pensioners across board must also be considered for the proposed six months tax-free payment  to public servants for 6 months as well as the payment of all outstanding liabilities to public/civil servants.

“The Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) pensioners under PTAD are being owed various pension liabilities, including the 2015 pension increment which the Union has been consistently pressing for its payment but to no avail. Also worth of mentioning is the pending liabilities of our members under the Contributory (Mandatory) Pension Scheme who are been short-changed of the 15% of the 2007 pension review, 33% of the 2010 pension review, omission of 2015 pension review and the consequential adjustment of 2019.

“We believe whole-heartedly that if the above pension reviews are paid to our members as part of the proposed palliatives, it will go a long way to ameliorate the living conditions of our members who will have cause to smile once again to the credit of the Tinubu-led Federal Government.

“The Union also wishes to request the Federal Government that whenever there is an upward review of salaries of the Civil Servants under whatever guise, pensions should be reviewed alongside with it and to be captured in the same circular, as a departure from the prevailing practice where such circulars are issued separately at different times, leaving the pensioners struggling to obtain their own circular for the corresponding payment.

“This practice must be stopped as pensioners are workers in retirement, who are also entitled to decent living conditions in line with the popular saying that “what is good for the goose is also good for the gander”.

“We also call on the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress to always carry NUP along in the negotiation for any salary review, as against the current practice whereby pensioners are always left on their own to slug it out with the Federal/State Governments after the workers might have been paid several years after.

“Finally, we wish to commend the initiative of the Federal Government for taking the bull by the horn in the removal of the fuel subsidy, though its attendant pains and frustrations notwithstanding. We believe that if the proposed palliatives are religiously implemented to the letter on record time devoid of the usual government bureaucratic bottlenecks, it will go a long way to assuage such pains as well as calm down frayed nerves of the obvious angry Nigerians.”

NUP called on the leadership of State Councils across the states to take up the matter of the palliatives package with their various State Governments on the ‘must’ inclusion of the pensioners either by the issuance of similar press releases or seeking audience with their respective State Governments or both, with immediate effect.

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