By Akin Akande, Abuja
Worried by what it described as unprecedented level of corruption in pension fund administration for the nation’s retired senior citizens, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has accused the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation of using obnoxious reforms to worsen pensioners’ plight.
The union also accused the office of the Head of Civil Service, now occupied by Goni Aji of reneging on the implementation of pension payments to reflect the 53.4 percent salary review, including payments to reflect the increase in the National Minimum Wage of N18, 000.
Ali Abatcha, President of the NUP, told reporters in Abuja, today at a conference that the union has secured the backing of its umbrella union, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and a coalition of civil society organizations in the country to stage mass protest in Abuja and Lagos on the 10th of April, 2013.
Promise Adewusi , Acting President of the NLC, said the stance which federal government maintained on the issues raised so far was not encouraging as it depict lack of political will to check corruption in the fund administration.
The union said it would use the protest billed for April 10 to restate its demands which bothers on the withholding of members’ check-up dues for over a year and the slow pace at which pension payment are being processed by the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
Other grievances of the union include the non-payment of outstanding arrears to scores of pensioners, non-enrolment of thousands of pensioners on the federal pension payroll, non-payment of death benefits to deserving next of kin, including the full implementation of the report of the Senate joint report on the pension scam.
Adewusi while bemoaning the plight of the senior citizens, said, “For quite some time now, the administration of pension funds has been enmeshed in unprecedented corruption with some public officers, institutions of government and banks generously helping themselves to the funds.
“In the process they deny pensioners their pension; this has thrown pensioners into penury, with some dying in queues of protracted and unending verification exercises that yield little or no result”, he said.
“However, we are not here for lamentations but to restate our resolve to embark on a peaceful protest on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, except if before then, government considers it worthwhile to address the gross criminality and inequities in the pension fund administration in the country, particularly as they affect our members”.
Meanwhile, Ezenwa Nwagwu, a representative of the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) said it is high time stakeholders pressured government to address the reckless handling of public funds.
He emphasised that government must rise up to the challenge of safeguarding public funds as every Nigerian stands to be a potential pensioner.