Chiadikobi Abarikwu, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Abia, has called for the decentralisation of pension administration to stop further embezzlement of pension funds.
Mr. Abarikwu said that the measure is necessary to save the pensioners in the country from their current plight due to the prevalence of fraud in the system.
“It is wrong to always ask pensioners to go to zonal headquarters and Abuja for revalidation and verification exercises”, he said in Umuahia on Tuesday.
“Such exercises should be decentralised to enable pensioners verify their status at liaison offices in their states and local government areas,” Mr. Abarikwu said.
He said that the decentralisation would make it difficult for civil servants saddled with pension management to dump people’s files or embezzle their monies.
The chairman added that the current arrangement has left the fate of pensions in the hands of few individuals, noting that this had made it easy for such officials to defraud pensioners.
“If I go to Umuahia or Ohafia Local Government headquarters for verification and officials in-charge are either known to me or somebody I know, such officials will not think of keeping back my entitlements or asking me to share my dues.
“But if the whole thing is taking place in Abuja, the official attending to you does not bother whether you are dying or not,” he said.
Mr. Abarikwu alleged that some pension officials demand for as much as 50 per cent of pensioners entitlements before attending to them.
“Out of hardship people succumb to these arrangements; government should thoroughly look into such ills to eliminate the heartless treatment meted out to Nigerian pensioners.”
He advised civil servants to embrace the contributory pension scheme introduced by government “to avoid difficult times after retirement”.