On the heels of Armed Forces Remembrance Day commemorated in Nigeria on Sunday, retired Col. Hassan Stan-Labo has called on the Federal Government to review the benefits and gratuities of military veterans.
“I think some bureaucracy needs to be backpedaled and [government should] allow this thing to move at a faster pace,” the former army officer said on Monday during a live appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
“We are not even talking of ‘what is the amount involved now?’ At the end of the day, frankly, when you look at what we’re talking about, it’s just sheer peanuts, and at times you even ask yourself, ‘Is this amount really worth all these pains?’ But that is the provision statutorily.
“So, there is even the need to revisit these amounts. The last time it was revisited, as far as I’m concerned, it was merely cosmetic. These are statutory matters, they are not issues which can be revisited every year.
“So, when you are trying to revisit it with the intent to increase, you do it at a level that it takes the next five, 10 years again before it calls for another revisit, then at least this amount of money will be able to cater to people.”
According to him, the amounts are “so insignificant” that well-off veterans opt out of government support to take care of themselves.
“This shouldn’t be the case, when we’re talking about offsprings or siblings of veterans. I think we should show more care. We’re not showing enough care as a nation. We’re not being appreciative enough of the role their husbands or fathers played,” he said.
The average veteran, according to Col. Stan-Labo, is not happy with the Nigerian state and instead feels underappreciated.
“You wish to see what is being paid to veterans; you will nearly ask, ‘Is this what all the noise has been about?’
“If you were supposed to pay somebody a department allowance at the point of his exit from service and you did not pay him, and the fellow we’re talking about now exited maybe 35 years ago, when N5,000 could buy you a brand new Peugeot car – some of us are aware of all this. We were still alive then.
“Today, you want to calculate the man’s department allowance based on 10 percent of what he was earning 35 years ago. What will 10 percent of that amount give you?” he asked.
According to the former Army officer, some veterans are left with N100,000, while others are paid even less.
“We expect a situation where to make amends, you say, ‘Let’s use the current pay schedule. You left service as a sergeant, what is a sergeant earning today?’ You calculate based on that 10 percent of today, not 35 years ago.
“Why should we just sit down and become so inhuman to fellow mankind? Somebody should have thought and said, ‘No, we’ve got to amend this! So, that’s what these chaps are being paid.’ And it’s unfortunate.
“Those who are smiling home now are those who are retiring in the last two, three, four years,” he said.