*18 months arrears of 33% pension increment not paid
For the past seven years, pensioners’ monthly pension was increased by the Jonathan administration by 33%, it is now 18 months and we have not been paid. We got the monies reduced to 18 months because of the protests we had embarked.
According to the pensioners, “the immediate past Acting Director General of PTAD, M. O. Muritala, had used his good office to pay us 24 months of the arrears within six months. He left the balance of 18 months which Ikeazor is not paying.”
Since the resumption of Ikeazor as Director General of PTAD nothing has happened. All efforts made by the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP). PTAD has refused to respond to NUP, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and even the Concerned Federal pensioners. Many pensioners are dead, suffering and waiting for what was supposed to be our rights.
The Association of Concerned Federal pensioners have written the Minister of Finance on the 27th September 2017 titled: “Our Demands.” They accused PTAD of not enrolling them into the pension pay roll since many of their members retired; Short payment of gratuities and monthly pensions; Outright removal of pensioners from pension pay roll and non payment of death cases to their next of kins;
They reminded the minister, “you will recall the series of ‘save-our-souls’ letters written to your office concerning this subject matter dated 6th September 2016 and 16th December 2016 yet no action has been taken by the government. In the light of the above, we have completely exhausted our patience hence this protest.
The asked the Finance Minister for four prayers:
- We want the immediate payment of outstanding 18 months arrears for which money has been released by the government since June 2017;
- We want immediate payment of all cases listed in paragraph 2 of this letter; Sharon Ikeazor, the Executive Secretary of PTAD is seen as an arch enemy of pensioners as such she should be removed from the pension office forthwith;
- We humbly request that a seasoned administrator be appointed as Executive Secretary of PTAD henceforth.
The two-page petition was signed by Comrade Ignatius G. Uzomah, Chief Felix Ajoku, Comrade Williams E. Essiet, Comrade Austin Ugoh, Comrade Danladi Mark Kogo and Comrade A. Adeshina.
Abuja pensioners’ protest: Recently, the pensioners took to the streets to vent their anger against PTAD. It was a pitiable sight, watching men and women above 70 years of age famished, hungry ad bony. Many of them have medical challenges.
They assert that their rights have been denied. They embarked on the protest to make their grievances known. They told www.gongnews.net how they were chased by security operatives first from the Ministry of Finance and also from the premises of the Head of Service to the Federation. They were made to trek all the way to the Unity fountain, Maitama, Abuja.
Our sick members are dying: Many of the pensioners have been very sick and in need of urgent medical attention as a good number of them had medical receipts and bills in their bags and pockets which were freely displayed during the protest march.
A very peculiar case was Mr Samuel Jebosiga, who became mentally deranged after his wife absconded with his three children, when he could no longer fend for his family. With no means of sustenance and mental instability, he has been living under the bridge at the Ministry of Education wing of the Federal Secretariat for over a year.
About eight years ago, Mr. Tiamly Najim, ruptured his left eye. He said that he has not been able to attend to it due to lack of sufficient funds to cater for his family and also pay for the required treatment that would restore his left sight at the National Hospital. He is beginning to wonder if his service as a driver in one of the federal ministries for 27 years was a wasted effort.
“I ruptured one of my eyes. To get money I worked for to enable me to treat myself is a big problem. The bill they gave me in the hospital is N47,500. I don’t have one kobo. All I need is for this people (PTAD) to pay me my money, so that I can go to the hospital to fix my eye at the national hospital. I beg the Federal Government.”
Explaining his plight, 71-year-old father of nine, Mr. Bakare Karima, who also needs N8,000 as signified in his two bills from the Nyanya General Hospital to attend to his eyes, noted that electricity bills consume a larger part of the meagre amount of pension he earns monthly.
“I earn N9,000 in a month and in the house where I am staying in Masaka, I spend as high as N5, 950 on NEPA bills every month. It is too much but if we don’t pay, the NEPA officials will disconnect our light. I depend on people working around me to cater for my family but because of the recession, for the past two months, they have stopped.”
Since his retirement in 1999, he and his family have been living from hand to mouth. Karima urged PTAD to pay up their pension arrears. He maintained that he would use the money to start up a firewood business to enhance the state of livelihood in his family.
Mrs Florentina Ijomah, angered over the untimely death of pensioners across the country, resulting mainly from failure of PTAD to live up to its expectations since the arrival of its new Executive Secretary. I join forces with my fellow pensioners to demand for the immediate sack of Mrs Sharon Ikeazor.
“We are here to protest the delay of government paying our balance of 18 months pension increment arrears. When Murtala was there, it took him only six months to pay us 24 months arrears. This woman has come and it is almost one year and she has not paid even one month.
“She keeps promising-I will pay three months, I will pay six months, I will pay 10 months- posting pensioners over their arrears.
“Reading through the budget, we saw that the money is there. The first one they released they said it was for PENCOM and now on paper they said they have released money to PTAD but they are waiting for cash backing.
Sharon Ikeazor said she has written to DMO, finance and accountant general. So, we decided to gather that if truly she has written to them, we are appealing to all the officers in charge of those agencies to please answer and reply PTAD and cash back the money they have released on paper so that we can have our money.
“A lot of our members are dying. A lot of our members are sick. It is very unfair on us. We went to finance, we were driven like dogs to Head of Service. The police drove us again like dogs to Unity Fountain. Why? Are we armed? Old people like this, are we going to fight the police?” she lamented.
The National Coordinator, ACFP, Mr. Ignatius Uzomah, told www.gongnews.net that pensioners can no longer wait for PTAD to conclude its verification exercise which might take another six months, before paying their pension benefits.
“Almost one year that Sharon Ikeazor came, nothing has been done. We are tired. We have endured a lot. Sharon should pay us our remaining 18 months arrears now. There are people who are short paid, there are those who have death cases, there are so many who have not been enrolled in the pensioners list. Yet, many of them retired many years ago, they are dying across the country. We have been begging her to pay but she has remained adamant.
“We want to get our money in the next one week and we want that woman to be removed from that place because she is a politician, a technocrat and an administrator concerned only about tomorrow. Before now, once they start paying civil servants, they will start ours immediately but since Sharon came, it takes up to aeons.
“This pension increment, there are those whose increment came to N3,000 across the country a month. These are the people waiting for N54,000 but with the situation in the country, it looks like N54 million to us.
“President Muhammadu Buhari may be very good with a lot of integrity which we respect so much but he should not allow his officials to destroy his government. We are pleading that he should call them immediately to pay us our arrears because thousands of pensioners have died across the country.”
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, however assured the pensioners that all efforts would be put in place to ensure their arrears are paid soonest, to relieve the pensioners of their suffering.