Dozens of retirees of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) picketed the ports’ Lagos Island headquarters, on Monday, protesting their retirement benefits “withheld since 1991”.
The retirees maintained that the NPA management, despite a 2007 Supreme Court ruling in their favour, has not been forthcoming with their pension, gratuity and a redundancy allowance after they were laid off.
Brandishing placards and chanting solidarity songs, the retirees – some of them septuagenarians – said that more than 2,000 of them across Nigeria have been affected.
Some of the retirees told PREMIUM TIMES they arrived the Marina head office “as early as 5 a.m” for the protest. They also said they were undeterred despite a heavy presence of security personnel at the NPA headquarters.
Olayiwola Jagun, one of the retirees, said that Mohammed Adoke, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) sent a representative to Lagos, to mediate in “their crisis” last year.
According to Mr. Jagun, the AGF’s representative explained to the NPA management that the Supreme Court’s judgment meant that they (the retirees) were entitled to 16 years’ salary arrears and an additional ‘four years of litigation” fees.
“The delegation also said that we are entitled to our pension and gratuity,” Mr. Jagun said.
“The monetary benefits for each of us should run into millions meanwhile, information reaching us suggests that the company management was preparing to pay N10, 000 as redundancy allowance,”Mr. Jagun continued.
“How can they say they want to pay us peanuts after 21 years and use yesterday’s monetary value for today?”
Some of the retirees, despite not being in the best of health, braved the cold, humid Monday morning to picket their former employer’s office.
“Some of us have even died in this struggle,” said a visually impaired Lukman Mayegun, who blamed NPA for his plight.
Mr. Mayegun, who said that he became blind the year he was retrenched due to “pressure and accumulated dirt”, maintained that he would have corrected his sight had he been paid his entitlements when it was due.
“I was exposed to hazardous and dangerous working environment with no protective gadgets or insurance, even when going into the sea,” Mr. Mayegun, who worked with the NPA for 11 years, said.
“I have become a beggar and they sometimes raise money for me in my mosque; I’m mentally and emotionally derailed.
“The suffering has been too much for me to bear,” he added.
No official of the NPA wanted to comment on the retirees’ claims.
It was gathered that Suleiman Omar, NPA’s Managing Director, was attending a five day delegates meeting of the Port Management Associations of West and Central Africa.