The national president of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, Abel Afolayan, on Friday urged the federal government to revisit deductions made from retirees’ pensions to correct errors in computation of entitlements.
Mr. Afolayan, who made the call in Abuja at the 14th annual National Pensions’ Day celebration, said the deductions were wrongly made.
“It is important to explain here that there was a fundamental error in the calculations and computations of the monies that are due to pensioners.
“Whereas, deductions of a total of 20 per cent representing tax, housing and health schemes were deducted from workers wages, these deductions were not, in any way, applicable to our members.
“We do not pay tax as pension is tax free; we are not subjected to contributory pension payment, neither are we part of national housing and health payment schemes.
“Therefore our rightful entitlement should be 53.4 per cent. But even now the 33 per cent approved for our members are in arrears by about 42 months.
“We would like to implore the Buhari administration to help us return this pension increase to 53.4 per cent and pay the total outstanding arrears of the increase and in fact all arrears of pension and unpaid gratuity,” he said.
Mr. Afolayan said pensioners were agitating for the payment of the remaining 33 per cent out of the original 53. 4 per cent representing 42 months of arrears owed them between 2010 and 2013.
He regretted that efforts by the union to ensure the payment of the arrears after several years met a brick wall, as the provision was not captured in the approved 2015 appropriation act.
He said this was in spite of the letters written to the Head of Service concerning the development.
“We, therefore, appeal to government to direct the relevant agencies charged with the responsibility to pay these entitlements to do so without further delay,” he said.
He also advocated review of pension, saying that pensioners were due for another pension increase this year after five years of last review.
He also pleaded with the federal government to pay the five per cent counterpart funding for pensioners into the Local Government Pension Funds on regular basis.
The minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the present administration was committed to the welfare of pensioners and their entitlements.
Mr. Ngige, represented by Hauwa Abubakar, an assistant chief labour officer in the ministry, said the government would from 2016 implement programmes that would positively affect the lives of vulnerable citizens.
“My ministry will work with the union to see how best to assist them in ensuring that their plights are reduced to the barest minimum,” he said.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters, Emmanuel Paulker, said the National Assembly was aware of the challenges faced by the pensioners.
“The primary challenge is having a reliable system for payment of pensioners; our pension system is not yet developed. The system is plagued with factors that make it unreliable,” he said.
Some pensioners called on government to provide free medical healthcare for them now that they have retired.
They also urged state governments that engage in part payment of pension funds to ease the sufferings of beneficiaries.