Benue Pensioners Group Rejects Ortom’s N611m Payment Proposal

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A file photo of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

 

 

A group of senior citizens under the umbrella of Concerned Benue Pensioners has rejected the N611 million payment proposal by Governor Samuel Ortom to pay April and May 2019 pension arrears.

The group, a faction of the National Union of Pensioners (NUP), rejected the governor’s proposal on Friday as they occupy the Benue State Government House in Makurdi, the state capital.

The protesters have been occupying the Government House for the third day running, an action they began since Wednesday.

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Governor Ortom, who had been out of the state, arrived to meet with the factional group of pensioners at the Government House.

He explained the challenges the state has in meeting its financial obligations, especially with total arrears of over N51 billion pension and gratuity.

Governor Ortom disclosed that he has directed the payment of April and May 2019 pension arrears, but the pensioners insisted on occupying the Government House gate.

Addressing reporters, Chairman of the group, Mr Peter Kyado, demanded that the pensioners be placed on a first-line charge before payment of salaries to civil servants.

He was responding to Governor Ortom’s proposal to source N40 billion bond to clear the pension arrears which stand at N18 billion, in addition to the two months payment.

In a twist of event, the state chapter of NUP alleged that the leadership of the Concerned Benue Pensioners was being used by opposition parties to cause crisis.

The state chairman of the union, Mr Joseph Ikyume, accused the Kyado-led group of mischief, partisanship and creating confusion within the union.

He insisted that the group had been suspended from the NUP and has lost its case at the National Industrial Court.

Benue Pensioners Protest Over 25 Months Arrears

 

Benue State Pensioners drawn the 23 Local Government Areas of the state have demanded for the payment of their pensions between 12 to 25 months.

The protesters went to the Government House on Wednesday to make their demands known.

The protesting pensioners while speaking with the chairman of the State Contributory Pension Scheme Board, Mr Terna Ahua, insisted that they will make their way to the Government House and occupy the seat of power till the governor yields to their call.

However, efforts by the chairman to convince them to back down from the protest as the governor was yet to return to the state was ignored.

He told them that measures are already taking to address their challenges.

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We Have Put A Stop To Dehumanisation Of Pensioners, Says President Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari Friday in Abuja said his administration has put a stop to the dehumanization of federal pensioners by ensuring they were paid their entitlements and backlog of arrears as at when due.

The President spoke when he received a delegation of Nigeria Union of Pensioners led by the acting president, Comrade Musa Ayuba Dallatu, at State House.

President Buhari declared that the welfare of pensioners had remained a priority for his administration since May 2015, noting that the retirees deserve timely payment of their emoluments, recognition, and respect for their work and dedication to the country during their active working years.

‘‘In recent times pensioners were ignored, neglected and even persecuted. We have put a stop to that. As you yourselves have confirmed today, we have begun regular payment of monthly pensions and payment of backlog of arrears.

‘‘The Federal Government released N45 billion accrued rights for the contributory pension scheme and N22.4 billion to start payment of ex-Nigeria Airways pensioners,’’ he said.

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President Buhari told the pensioners that the Federal Government also bailed out States to address salary and pension arrears including Paris Club refunds, even as he had authorised schemes for the restoration of Niger Delta Steel Company pensioners, NITEL/MTEL pensioners and Biafra Police war veterans pensioners.

Reviewing the actions taken so far by the administration in connection with the pension industry, the President said the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) had saved N4.9 trillion per annum as a result of payroll clean-up under the Civil Service verification exercise.

He added that the Directorate which supervised the payment of pension arrears to over 50,000 verified Civil Service Pensioners, also oversaw the payment of N917.6 million to 432 war retirees.

According to the President, under his watch, PTAD completed full payment of N5.8 billion to police retirees in August 2018 while in November 2018, N13.7 billion was paid to parastatal retirees and N18 billion to civil service Pensioners.

‘‘These few examples testify to the Government’s positive impact on pensioners’ lives. In addition, we achieved huge savings in budgetary provisions through the elimination of ghost and duplicated details.

‘‘We have restored qualified pensioners arbitrarily removed from the payroll, thus bringing succour and hope to senior citizens, thereby improving the confidence of the entire county in the Government and its policies,’’ he said.

On the requests by the pensioners, including the implementation of the National Policy on Pension Parity and the National Policy on Social Security on Health and Other Related Matters of the Elderly, the President promised to do all within his powers to address them, subject to the availability of funds.

The leader of the delegation had also sought the President’s intervention on the five percent counterpart funding for the payment of local government pensioners and retired primary school teachers which was arbitrarily stopped in 2010.

Comrade Dallatu appealed for the payment of outstanding pension arrears, gratuities and death benefits that have accrued over the years, among others.

Commending President Buhari on the regular payment of pensions, Dallatu said: ‘‘we are bold to say without fear or favour that you have made our lives better than you met it in so many areas, which among others include regular payment of monthly pensions.

‘‘It is an incontestable fact that since the advent of this government under your able leadership, payment of monthly pensions has been more regular than ever. In fact, if the truth must be told, Mr President Sir, we have never had it so good.’

 

Pensioners Protest Unpaid Arrears, Seek Buhari’s Intervention

Pensioners Protest Unpaid Arrears, Seek Buhari’s Intervention
NUP members protest at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja on August 9, 2018.

 

Members of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) have staged a protest over the unpaid arrears of their entitlements.

The senior citizens took the protest to Federal Secretariat in Abuja on Thursday, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently intervene in the matter.

The protesters, who are largely retirees in the electricity sector, lamented that the non-payment of their arrears has affected their welfare and the operations of the union.

They also asked the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, to be forthright in handling the internal disputes between them and the former leadership of the union.

Edo To Pay Next Batch Of Pension Arrears From Wednesday

Edo To Pay Next Batch Of Pension Arrears From Wednesday
This file photo shows pensioners in Edo State protest their unpaid gratuities and pension arrears

 

The Edo State government has said that it will commence the payment of pension arrears of retirees in ‘batch 40’ latest on Wednesday, January 24.

The government announced this in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary and Chairman, Pensions Bureau, Mr I.D. Juwobor, a copy of which was obtained by Channels Television on Sunday.

Juwobor said explained that the announcement was in continuation of the phased payment of pension arrears by the state government.

However, pensioners in batch 40 have been asked to present themselves for physical and documentary verification from Monday to Wednesday at the Imaguero School Hall in Benin City, the state capital.

According to the government, the exercise will also afford pensioners in batches 37, 38 and 39, who missed previous verification exercises, the opportunity to be screened and get their records taken to facilitate payment of their arrears.

“Affected pensioners are advised to check the list of pensioners in the batches at the office of the Head of Service on January 22 and 23, 2018.

“They are to come to the venue of the verification exercise with the following: pension authority, retirement letter, letter of first appointment, pension identity card, biometric slip and bank details including bank name and account number,” the Pensions Bureau chairman said.

Upon conclusion of the verification exercise, he said outstanding pension arrears would be credited to each pensioner’s account, “without delay after due process and documentation by relevant agencies involved in the payment process.”

The state government had opted for the phased payment of pension arrears after a reported backlog of about N10billion.

Imaguero, however, said the phased payment of the arrears has reduced the arrears by about N6billion, providing succour to pensioners whose arrears accrued from 1996 to 2000.

Ekiti Pensioners Sack Exco Over Poor Representation

Ekiti Pensioners Sack Exco Over Poor Representation
File Photo

Ekiti State Chapter of Local Government Pensioners Association of Nigeria (LOGPAN) has sacked members of its executive council.

The exco, led by Mr Julius Adekogba, was dissolved on Wednesday at a mini-congress of the association which held in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.

The pensioners said Adekogba’s stay in office for 21 years violated Article 2 of the union’s constitution which provides for a term of three years in office and is renewable for another three-year term.

They also accused the exco leader of contravening Article 13 of the Constitution by accepting a political appointment from the state governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, as a commissioner in the state’s Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM).

The senior citizens added that Adekogba cannot remain as chairman of the union while he holds office as LOGPAN’s national chairman at the same time.

They also accused him of failing to fight for their interest having been appointed by the governor, claiming that four of their members died in the last one week – a few days after seven others died within two weeks.

He was also alleged to have refused to render the statement of annual income and expenditure for many years, as well as engaging in illegal and unauthorised deductions from monthly pension allowances.

The motion for the dissolution of the Adekogba-led exco was moved by Mr Biodun Olanrewaju and was unanimously seconded by the voice vote of members present at the congress.

Consequently, the pensioners resolved that a caretaker committee be constituted to pilot the affairs of the union and conduct an election to usher in another set of leadership.

The embattled chairman, however, insisted that he remains the leader of the union while members walked out on him in the rowdy session.

Delta Pensioners Protest, Accuse Govt Of Misusing Paris Club Refund

Retirees in Delta State on Tuesday held a protest, criticising Governor Ifeanyi Okowa over the non-payment of their entitlements.

They protested under the umbrella of the Association of Retired Local Government Staff and Primary School Teachers.

The retirees bearing placards and banners to their protest to state’s House of Assembly and Government House, accusing the governor of misusing the Paris Club refund and bailout fund released to the state by the Federal Government.

While demanding to know how the bailout was spent, they requested the full payment of all benefits owed them from 2013 till date.

This is the second time in one week pensioners in Delta State will be protesting through the streets of Asaba singing the same song and passing the same kind of message.

Their placards gave a clear description of their requests as they converged on the complex of the State House of Assembly to pour out their grievances.

“It is appalling to note that soon after assumption of office in May 2015, the state governor Ifeanyi Okowa, through the joint allocation account stopped the 7.5 percent statutory monthly allocation to the Bureau of Local Government Pensions,” Chairman of the association, Jerry Arioghore said.

“This is a serious infraction on the Delta State Pension Reform Law and all efforts to draw his attention to this fell on deaf ears.”

Responding to their lamentations, some members of the state Assembly promise to look into the matter and profer solutions to their plight

At the Government House, the protesting retirees were met by the chief of staff to the governor and the state Head of Service, who told them that they felt their pain and promised to address the issues.

“All you have stated is the obvious. We are facing these challenges because the funds are not available. Nobody wants you to die, we feel your pain and we shall definitely address these issues,” they said.

How ‘Phased Approach’ Will Address Pensioners’ Welfare – Edo Govt

Edo Retirees Protest Unpaid Gratuities, Pension Arrears
This file photo shows pensioners in Edo State protest against their unpaid gratuities and pension arrears

The Edo State Government has explained how its resolve to pay all outstanding pensions and gratuities through a “phased approach” will address the welfare of pensioners in the state

The government said it has embarked on a holistic strategy to address pensioners’ welfare since Governor Godwin Obaseki’s administration came on board and to reduce the debt burden on the state.

A statement issued on Monday in Benin City by the government said though dwindling crude production and oil prices affected revenue accruing to it from the Federal Government, it has prioritised the plight of pensioners in the face of competing needs in the different sectors of the state.

It said it has been faithful to the purpose of the Paris Club refund, which was disbursed to states for clearing salary, pension, and gratuity arrears.

The state government, however, said it “is not and cannot be sufficient to settle pension arrears that have accumulated for over 20 years. The Paris Club refund is not restricted to payment of pension arrears and gratuities, but for employees’ emoluments.”

It further dismissed reports that government owed pension arrears of up to 42 months and described such as “false and misinterpretation of facts”.

The government explained that only a few pensioners were owed multiple months of arrears, most of whom they said were captured under the Local Government Pension Board, an institution that is autonomous and independent of the Edo State Pension Bureau.

Part of the statement read: “Matters concerning local government pensioners are separately handled by the local government pension board. Up to this moment, retirees in the local government service fall within the jurisdiction of the local government pension board.

“Be that as it may, the issues raised by the protesting pensioners of the local government service are better tackled by the local government pension board. Under the Edo State Contributory Pension Scheme Law, there is a unitary pension bureau that will take charge of both the state civil service and the local government civil service staff.

“When the Edo State Pension Bureau becomes fully operational, after inspection and certification by the National Pension Commission, it will take over the functions of the local government pension board. This would be done after the commission conducts due diligence on the state of affairs of the board’s pension liabilities and current pension and gratuity payment status.”

According to the state government, some of the measures put in place include phased payment of arrears, harmonising pension management system in the state, and migration of state to the contributory scheme.

It restated its resolve to “pay, in phases, all outstanding pension arrear, and gratuities, as well as ensure that retiring civil servants process their papers on time so that they can effortlessly transit from their salary payroll into pension payroll at the exact time of their exit from the civil service.”

“This singular step, if carried through without default of the retiring staff and relevant authorities saddled with the processing of retirees’ documents, will eliminate the incidence of accumulation of pension arrears.”

On efforts made to harmonise pension management in the state, the government said “We have put up measures to consolidate and pursue the implementation of the contributory pension scheme.”

“In fact, all necessary requirements to ensure a hitch-free payment of retirement benefits to civil servants who transited from the defined benefit scheme into the contributory pension scheme regulated by the pension commission have been met by the state government.”

The government asked the senior citizens to exercise patience as the phased payment of the arrears takes its due course.

It also assuring them that measures have been put in place to ensure that the present issues don’t arise after it has been addressed in the state.

Edo Retirees Hold Special Prayers For Pension Arrears

Kwara Pensioners Accuse Govt. Of Owing Gratuities Worth N5bn
File Photo

Retirees in Edo State have held an inter-denominational church service to push for the payment of their pension arrears and other retirement benefits.

The senior citizens have been protesting since mid-2015 to call on the State government to pay them their pension arrears of up to 42 months.

Some of them said they were yet to be paid their gratuities, a situation they claimed had been worsened by the closure of the State Pensions Board by the immediate past administration.

Speaking on Wednesday during a church service held at the Teachers’ House in Benin City, the state capital, one of the retirees, Mr. Gabriel Osemwenkhai lamented that government has only paid lips service to the plight of pensioners in the state.

“How we manage to survive is only by God’s grace, pensioners in this state are suffering. We can only hope and pray that the governor keeps his promise of clearing all pension matters by the end of June,” he said.

Another pensioner, Mr. Lucky Ikpomwosa, who urged the State government to look into the issue of pension harmonisation, said: “The government should also commence pension harmonisation in the state which is a legal right of retirees.

“Things are getting more expensive by the day but the pension remains the same, this is totally unfair to those of us who have deployed our youthful days working to build this state and the country”.

The pensioners noted that the struggle to get their entitlements has been a lengthy one characterised by a number of protests in Benin City.

Despite their agitations, the senior citizens, however, said they are thankful to God for sustaining them thus far.

Federal Government Pledges To Clear Pension Arrears

Federal Government Pledges To Clear Pension ArrearsNigeria’s Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, says the government is committed to ensuring that every pensioner is paid their entitlement.

The minister gave this assurance while appearing before the House of Representatives accompanied by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and other heads of agencies in the country’s pension sector.

The ministers said salaries and pensions are the government’s number one priority, adding that the administration would look for creative ways to raise the funds needed to settle the arrears.

Adeosun, who touched on some of the steps taken so far, noted that the sum of 42 billion Naira to clear all the arrears. “Everything that has been appropriated up to date has now been paid,” she said.

The National President of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Abel Afolayan, on his part, expressed appreciation over the efforts of the Federal Government.

The ministers are expected to complete their work on the total figures needed to pay the pension arrears as soon as possible after which they would work with the National Assembly to ensure that the 2017 budget captures the figures.

FG Begins Verification Of Pensioners In Nigeria And Diaspora

Pensioners, Nigeria, DiasporaThe Federal Government has commenced the verification of pensioners in the diaspora and its database of retirees in Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, made the disclosure on Tuesday during an interview with reporters in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Mrs Ikeazor gave the hint after meeting with the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

She explained that the diaspora verification exercise was an initiative of the government to ensure that every Nigerian including those living abroad received their entitlements.

The PTAD boss revealed that 15,600 pensioners have been dropped from the payroll owing to lack of proper identification.

She said the new system had saved the government millions of Naira, adding that the government was devising means to rid the pension system of fraud.