State Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Taraba state, Mr. Paul Tyav has counseled State Houses of Assembly in the country to raise the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution in fixing N25, 000 as minimum pension for retirees from the public service.
The Taraba pensioners scribe cited sections 173 (3) and 210 (3) of the Constitution to buttress his claim for minimum pension for public service retirees, stressing that the legislation when operational will bring to an end the pensioners out cries for 5-yearly pension non-review.
It would be recalled that the last pension review was done in July 2010, and due for next review in July 2015 which is yet to be effected by the Income, Wages and Salaries Commission, a situation that slack the Nigerian pensioners on appropriate authorities demanding for the pension review.
Tyav, en-route Jalingo from Kano during a stopover at Bauchi told newsmen that the approval of minimum wage applicable to Nigerian workers should also apply to pensioners, referred to as Nigeria senior citizens.
He explained many pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) receive less than N10, 000 per month which could not be regarded as minimum pension, saying “With the present economic catastrophe in the country, we believe no pensioner should be paid less than N25, 000 per month”.
The Taraba NUP Secretary wondered that this time the elected leaders, particularly lawmakers sit and deliberate on issues that affect them personally or affects their constituencies but forgetting about the pension constituency.
“Pensioners consist of elder statesmen and women, which should be the first constituency of every Nigerian, of every human being alive. The Elders should be the Legislators’ first constituency, which is why in its own wisdom the Constitution enshrines with these provisions that it should not be forgotten”.
He further explained that since the issue of pension increase is constitutional, the Income, Wages and Salaries Commission should simply write a circular to states to implement the constitutional provisions, giving an appropriate guided review tabular to assist the states that always look for circular to implement the pension increase.
“Once you alleviate the problems of pensioners you alleviate the problems of more than half Nigerians or the populace. Other countries make provisions for elder statesmen and women, by creating homes for them to rest, create facilities and even pay them allowances outside their pensions, but in Nigeria these people are left to die in abject poverty rather than putting them on ‘first-count charge’.
According to him, the approval of the minimum monthly pension will also put to rest the demand for harmonization of old and new pension rates that creates wide gaps between monthly pensions of officers of the same rank who retired at different times.
Mr. Paul Tyav expressed optimism that President Muhammadu Buhari as a fellow pensioner will make his administration pensioner-friendly not for the military alone, but generality of Nigerian pensioners to save them from their present undesirable status as dying out species in the society.
Tyav also expressed dismay that only two out of the six zonal pensioners in the country were screened and verified by the Pensions Transition Administration Directorate (PTAD), attributable to lack of funds to complete the exercise and pay pensioners their 53.4% pension increase arrears now running up to 30 months.