Pension Review Magazine
Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima has approved N1 billion for payment of gratuity to retired workers and last year’s leave transport grant for civil servants.
The state Head of Service, Arc. Yarima Saleh, said in a statement yesterday in Maiduguri that Governor Shettima had just approved another N1 billion this year in addition to the N2 billion he approved last year, as a continuation of payments of allowances to retired and serving members of the state Civil Service.
His Excellency, Hon. Kashim Shettima, has approved 1 billion for the commencement of payment of 2017 leave transport grant to civil servants as well as payment of gratuity to retired civil servants, permanent secretaries and judges.
Former workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways are staging a protest at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos on Tuesday following what they called the prolonged delay and uncertainty over the payment of the N45bn pension approved for them last year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The retirees have blocked the road linking the International wing with the domestic terminals of MMA causing traffic gridlock on the ever busy road.
The protesters singing solidarity song with different placards demand explanation from the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun on why their pension approved since May last year has not been paid.
The protest kicked off from the Skypower Catering Service with hundreds of members participating. They were earlier addressed by their leaders including the Chairman of Nigeria Airways’ branch of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Comrade Sam Ezene and Engr. Lukman Animasahun.
Nzene said the protest would move to Abuja after Wednesday if nothing was heard from the government on the status of their payment.
“The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun keeps insisting that National Assembly has to approve and we went to the National Assembly but they said there is nothing on Nigeria Airways at the National Assembly. That is what we have been dragging since September,” he said.
The placards read, "President Buhari, save us from Kemi Adeosun now"; " Mrs Adeosun, your action and inactions are man's inhumanity to man"; "Madam Minister of finance, where is our pension and entitlements, pay us now"; among others.
Gov. Aminu Masari of Katsina state says his administration has spent N22.4 billion on the settlement of gratuities and pensions to retired civil servants between 2015 and to April, 2017.
No fewer than 7.82 million workers are registered under the pension scheme in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to 7.71 million registered workers in the third quarter of the year.
The confusion over the N45bn pension and severance package approved for retirees of the defunct Nigeria Airways still lingers amidst rising expectations by the pensioners.
Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had towards the end of last year further raised the expectation of the workers when he said at the end of a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that the money would be paid as a Christmas gift to the affected veterans but that did not happen.
The FEC had in September last year approved the payment of N45bn for the ex-workers who had reportedly lost 850 of the beneficiaries.
But frustration set in after three months and there was no green light about the date of payment.
The Minister of Aviation obtained the presidential approval of N45bn for the part settlement of approximately six years, instead of 10 years, pension arrears to the pensioners.
On the October 12, 2017, the aviation Minister conveyed the Presidential approval to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, for payment.
Thereafter, the Finance Minister directed PICA, a Presidential Initiative on Continuous Auditing created under the Finance Ministry to handle the payment appropriately.
Three months after the presidential approval, the workers have expressed frustration over the delay in the payment of the pensions. The delay then triggered series of peaceful rallies.
Worried over the delay, representatives of the workers under the auspices of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Nigeria Airways branch, protested to the Finance Ministry where the Permanent Secretary reportedly referred them to the Senate.
A source at the Senate meeting quoted Goje as saying, “We jointly reviewed the draft estimates in the proposed 2018 Budget (presented to NASS in November 2017 by Mr President) and discovered most sadly that there is nothing before the Senate or NASS in the 2018 budget estimates with respect to pension payment to Nigeria Airways Pensioners.”
With the development communicated to the workers, it therefore dawned on them that they would have to wait for a longer period to get their payment.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had in July last year approved N2.7tr for payment of debts it owed federal contractors, pensioners, and civil servants’ promotion arrears.
It is believed that the N45bn approved for ex-Airways’ workers was to be paid from the bond issuance which, from all indications, has not yielded.
Pension Review Magazine recalled that the last time the Nigeria Airways pensioners were paid was in 2010 with the payment approved by late President Umar Yar’Adua who directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to source for fund.
Worried by the prolonged delay, the ex-workers staged a protest in Lagos on Tuesday to express their displeasure over the development. The workers took over the domestic airport road even as two of them slumped during the protest.
A retiree, Comrade Andrew Iwalegwu said, “Remember in December, our colleagues in the northern zone, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau and Makurdi did a protest in Abuja. Then the Minister of Aviation said we would smile during Christmas. We never knew he wanted to give us a bitter leaf Christmas,” he said.
The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has verified ex-workers of NITEL and MTEL in Abuja and Kano preparatory to their being added on the pension payroll.
The Executive Secretary of PTAD, Barrister Sharon Ikeazor, in company of the Chairman of Military Pensions Board, Brigadier General Adekunle Adigun Adesope, monitored the verification exercise in Abuja.
Ikeazor said when the field verification closed the pensioners are free to walk into PETAD’s Lagos and Abuja offices to be verified.
Brigadier General Adesope appraised the exercise as “commendable,” adding that he was impressed with the way the pensioners are segmented and treated.
Monitoring the verification in Kano, the Chairman of the House Committee on Pensions, Hassan Shekarau, interacted with the pensioners and personnel of the Directorate to get a concrete proof that the process was in order.
Honourable Shekarau assured that the House will support the Directorate to hasten budgetary process for funds to be released to pay the pensioners their entitlements.