28 November 2012

Nigeria: Public Service Pensioners Write Jonathan Over Benefits

Public service pensioners have drawn the attention of President Goodluck Jonathan to the alleged breach of agreement by appropriate agencies of government saddled with the responsibility of reviewing the retirees' pensions.

They argued that since the inception of late Umaru Yar'Adua administration in 2007, their pension allowances have not been reviewed upwards, noting that pensioners were excluded from the 53.7 per cent upward review of emoluments of workers in the federal public service in 2010.

The retirees further lamented that inflation arising from the partial removal of fuel subsidy has eroded the purchasing power of pensioners who also buy from the same market like every other Nigerian.

In a petition letter signed by representatives of the pensioners, Mr. Olufemi Adebayo and Mr. Mike Eze, they urged the president to intervene and ensure that the pensioners are treated in the same way like their counterparts in service.

The letter read: "We, the Nigerian Pensioners who retired from the Public Service under the old Pension Scheme (the non contributory one); that is, before the new Pension Reform Act of 2004, wish hereby to draw your attention to our plight arising from the Federal Government's breach of the constitutional provisions with respect to regular pension review in the public service.

"The relevant portion is Section 173, particularly Subsections (2) and (3), at page 62 of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution makes it absolutely mandatory that 'Pensions shall be reviewed every five years or together with any Federal Civil Service reviews whichever is earlier'.

"Your Excellency Sir, based on the above stated Constitutional provision, it is a clearly established fact that "both Subsections (2) and (3) of section 173 have already been breached by the Federal Government under your leadership, as the last pension review in the Public Service was by the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo regime with effect from 1st January, 2007, almost 6 years ago.

"Those sub-sections of section 173 were first breach in 2010 when the Federal Government upwardly adjusted the emoluments of workers in the Federal Public Service by 53.7 per cent in what was popularly called the "Jonathan Award" (in honour of Mr. President ), without any thought of extending same or anything at all to pensioners. This was later followed by another upward review of emoluments arising from the implementation of the N18,000.00 per month National Minimum Wage in 2011 which up till now has not yet been extended to Nigerian Pensioners.

"The inflationary effect of all those increases in workers' emoluments without any corresponding upward review for pensioners combined with the general rise in the price of goods and services triggered off by the partial deregulation of the prices of petroleum products earlier in the year has resulted in the serious erosion of the purchasing power of pensioners as their income has remained static for a long time now.

"Your Excellency Sir, in view of the foregoing, we are therefore using this medium of an open letter to draw your attention to our problem in the hope that you will intervene urgently to ensure that we are given what is due to us like our counterparts in service while we are still alive for what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

"Specifically, we are imploring your administration to immediately approve a 53.7 per cent upward review of pension in the public service as was done to our serving counterparts In 2010, and thereafter ensure that the appropriate agency of government issue the circulars to that effect for immediate implantation," the group noted.

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