Nigerian Senior Citizens have sent a Save Our Souls (SOS) plea to President Muhammadu Buhari to salvage them from present economic hardships through approval of the payment of the new minimum wage.
The pensioners, under the umbrella of the National Association of Nigerian Pensioners (NANP), said their problem precisely revolves around the undue delay by the Buhari administration in approving an upward review of pensions, consequent upon approval of the new national minimum wage in April, 2019, almost two years ago.
In a letter dated April 8, 2021, to President Buhari, the president of NANP, Mr. Ifeanyi Usifo, noted that the pensioners were passionately appealing to the President to approve the White Paper on Pension Review and to further direct the relevant office of government to quickly issue the long-awaited circular on pension increase to enable the relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government expeditiously implement the approved review in their respective establishments without.
He said, “Your Excellency, Sir, having now drawn your attention to our plight, we hereby most respectfully implore you to urgently intervene now to save us from further hardship and even untimely death.
“Since we have already waited for this for too long now, hopefully, before the end of April or, latest, before the middle of May 2021, that circular should have been released.”
Usifo said those affected were pensioners who retired under the old scheme known as the Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS), and those who retired before the enactment of the new Pension Reform Act 2004.
He lamented that the delay, which has inflicted hardship on the pensioners, was a violation of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, particularly Section 173, Subsections 1 to 3.
“For instance, Section 173, Subsection 3, states that ‘Pensions shall be reviewed every five years or together with any Federal Civil Service salary reviews, whichever is earlier.’
“The last pension review in the public service of the Federation was the 33% increase that was approved with effect from July 1, 2010, over 10 years ago, and the next one was due by July 1, 2015, – over six years ago, which is contrary to the constitutional provisions,” he stated.
The NANP president said the present state of high inflation in the economy has seriously eroded the purchasing power of the pension.
According to him, “Some of our members have passed on while waiting for this long-overdue upward review of pension. Why is the Federal Government treating us this way? Why is the Federal Government treating us very unfairly compared to its treatment of our counterparts who are still in service? Is it because we are a comparative set of hapless and powerless old men and women who, because we are no longer in service, cannot down tools or go on strike to compel the Federal Government to do the needful by complying with the relevant portion of the Nigerian Constitution?
“Honestly speaking, we don’t deserve this kind of unjust treatment at this our old age, having served this nation meritoriously in the past in our youthful age.”
He, however, reasoned that, as responsible citizens, they were quite aware of the fact that the President right now was confronted with very serious challenges of unimaginable proportions, largely not of his own making.
“But we still believe that, with the necessary courage and determination to succeed, which you have ably demonstrated so far, we will eventually overcome, if not all, at least, some of them,” he said.
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