The Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) recently staged a protest in Abuja to remind authorities of the need for an upward review of minimum pension.
The pensioners carried placards with messages that projected pension as a right, not a privilege or favour as enormously perceived in some quarters.
The National Chairman of NUP, Comrade Omezi Sunday, said the union resolved to stage a nationwide protest to highlight the plight of pensioners in the country to the world.
The protesters gave government seven days to meet their demands, which included pension review and regular payment.
Comrade Sunday said the union was compelled to make the demand and seek the quick and considerate intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari to avoid the ugly experience encountered in the implementation of salary increase in July, 2010, which was only implemented in April, 2019; nine years after.
The NUP said it considered it necessary to raise the issues affecting pensioners across the country as they relate to their welfare, including the perception of annihilation by the authorities.
The union however commended President Buhari for his efforts aimed at reducing the grievances of pensioners in the country.
Comrade Sunday revealed that several letters were submitted to relevant government agencies such as Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) and Office of the Salaries and Wages Commission, but that no response was received from any of them.
Recently, some members of NUP protested at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) during which they expressed their grievance on their exclusion of the defined benefits scheme of pensioners.
A committee has been set up by government to work out details and structure for the implementation of the new national minimum wage.
The union has frowned at the Federal Government’s seeming nonchalance over a pension review which has been snubbed in the new national minimum wage discourse.
Notwithstanding, NUP is therefore urging the president, who has been inaugurated for a second term and is also a pensioner, to address the silence over pension review as it is enshrined in Section 173 of the Constitution of Nigeria.
The position of the constitution is clear on periodic review of salaries and pensions in the country.
The constitution reads in part: “Subject to the provision of the Constitution, the right of a person in public service of the federation to receive pension or gratuity shall be regulated by law. Pensions shall be reviewed every five years or together with any Federal Civil Service salary reviews, whichever is earlier.”
NUP said the constitution further provided that pensions in respect of service in the public service of the federation shall not be taxed.
The pensioners also appealed to Mr President to consider the involvement of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, which is an umbrella body of all pension organisations in the country, on the implementation committee to give them a sense of belonging.