The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) on Tuesday in Abuja demanded an increase in the national minimum pension in line with current considerations for a new national minimum wage.
Abel Afolayan, the NUP National President, while making the demand at a news conference said this was necessary in view of ongoing discussions with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
He said the federal government must take pensioners into consideration while increasing Nigerian workers’ wages
“We will like to emphasise again that whatever is finally approved as the national minimum wage should equally apply to pensioners as national minimum pension, with a corresponding circular clearly stating the minimum pension,’’ Mr Afolayan said.
He said NUP’s demand should not be made to wait until after the release of the new national minimum wage circular, saying this would forestall the union from having “to run helter-skelter’’.
The NUP president said the union would not want a repeat of the experience it had in 2010 concerning the national minimum wage and the pension review.
He said the union was forced then to be running from pillar to post before the pension review was approved.
“It is also important and imperative to add here that state governments should take a cue from the federal government in this matter, that whatever is the final agreement reached by the tripartite committee as minimum wage should also apply to all pensioners in the states as minimum pension,’’ Mr Afolayan said.
He pointed out that this was in accordance with Section 210 (3) of the 1999 Federal Constitution (as amended).
“For justice and fairness, and in line with the spirit and letter of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Sections 173 (3) and 210 (3), minimum wage and minimum pension should be the same.
“This is our position. This is our demand and we hope the media will join us to explain this to the world, while we will intensify efforts to appeal to the federal government to do the needful,’’ the NUP president said.
He called on the federal government to fasten the process of paying the balance of the 12 months arrears of the 33 per cent pension increase of 2010.
Mr Afolayan said the payment of the balance of the arrears was long overdue.
He said NUP had through the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) made several submissions and appeals to the federal government for this payment but this had been to no avail.
“The union leadership therefore can no longer contain the anger of the union’s members who have been spoiling for a showdown with the federal government over the non-payment.
“Consequently, and having been pushed to the wall, we are compelled to issue a 21-day ultimatum to PTAD in compliance with the extant labour laws.
“After this, if no payment is made, pensioners will embark on a protest to picket PTAD and other relevant offices connected with this payment,’’ Mr Afolayan said.
He then called for immediate action to effect the payment in order to make such a course of action unnecessary.
“Doing what is necessary will not only make the protest unnecessary, but serve as a mark of respect for we the elderly and senior citizens of this country,’’ the NUP president said.