Ex-Nigeria boxing champ raises alarm over 15 years of unpaid pension

Obisia-Nwankpa
Obisia Nwankpa

Obisia Nwankpa, one-time Nigeria’s most prized boxing asset, has raised the alarm over alleged refusal of the Nigerian Army to pay his pension over the past 15 years.

Mr. Nwakpa is challenging the Army to explain why it stopped paying his pension in 2002.

The former pugilist told PREMIUM TIMES at the National Stadium in Lagos that the Army has not paid his pension since.

“When I was compulsorily retired in 1984, my gratuity was paid and without much ado they started paying my pension.”

But in 2002, Mr. Nwakpa said his fortune turned sour when he missed a verification exercise.

He said: “I missed out of one verification exercise in 2002 and that was the beginning of my trouble. Since then they simply refused to pay my pension”.

The boxing icon revealed how he had tried to get his pension back but met a brick wall.

“I have done everything humanly possible and visited Abuja several times to get my money but to no avail,” he lamented.

He said he had refused to go public with his travails but decided to raise the alarm due to a recent twist in the saga.

The boxer said the new development is giving him the jitters especially in these days of vanishing pension funds.

According to him “Some five months ago, they paid me one year and when I asked for the 15 years backlog, they ignored me.

“This development frightened me and I decided to raise the alarm. My fear is that something strange is happening to my money and I am raising the alarm so that the army authorities can intervene and ensure I get my money.

“Before now, I didn’t want to go to the media with the story because of the bad publicity it would attract to the Nigerian Army which is a great institution and which I served meritoriously”.

Mr. Nwakpa said it had been hellish for him and his numerous dependants in the last 15 years.

“It has been a terrible experience for me and my dependants. I have not been able to meet up with my financial commitments as a husband, father, uncle and guardian. To say the least, it has been a traumatic experience for me,” he said.

While appealing to the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Burutai, to intervene, he reminded the army authorities of the fame he brought to the service as a soldier.

He declared “Without trying to be boastful, there is no soldier dead or alive who brought more honour to the Nigerian Army than Obisia Nwankpa. The records are there for all to see”.

“I deserve better treatment than what I am getting now”.

Mr. Nwakpa joined the Nigerian Army as a youngster in 1969.

He served for 15 years in the force until his compulsory retirement in 1984. During his time with the Nigerian Army, he had a flourishing boxing career which brought him fame and fortune and also boosted the image of his employers.

He had an illustrious amateur career which saw him win gold at the 1973 All Africa Games. Mr. Nwankpa participated in the light-welterweight competition. He won the gold medal, defeating Issake Dabore of Niger in the final.

He also won the gold medal in the light-welterweight category at the 1974 British Commonwealth Games, defeating Anthony Martey of Ghana in the final.

Before he joined the paid ranks in 1977, he also won gold in the World Military Games (CISM) in 1975 and 1976 among other laurels,

As a professional, he reigned at various times as national, continental and Commonwealth champion in the light welterweight category.

The high point of his boxing career was In December 13, 1981.He had a shot at the world title held by Saoul Mamby of the United States of America and lost the fight by 2-1 split decision.

He rose to the rank of Warrant Officer Class One.

All attempts at getting the comments of the spokesperson of the Army, Sani Usman, has so far proved abortive. Mr. Usman did not return calls made to his phone.

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Tunde Eludini is a graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria where he studied International Relations. He is a Senior Correspondent coordinating the sports section for PREMIUM TIMES. Twitter@tundeyeludini


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