Ex-soldiers urge Buhari to probe military pension
RETIRED military officers have urged the President-elect, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), to commission a thorough investigation into the Nigerian Military Pension Scheme as soon as he assumes office in order to expose the problems hampering the settlement of their pensions.
Citing the Federal Government’s consistent failure of implement the approved 53 per cent increase in their pension allowance and alleging insincerity and corruption on the part of the concerned authority, the ex-service men urged the incoming administration not to skip any of the parties involved in the payment in the advocated probe.
In a statement, the Publicity Officer of Retired Army, Navy and Air Force Officers Club of Nigeria, Capt. Yusuf Abdulmalik (rtd), appealed to Buhari “to save the ex-service men from bondage, neglect and deprivation of our legitimate and constitutional rights.”
Abdulmalik accused the Ministry of Finance and the Military Pension Board of flagrantly ignoring President Goodluck Jonathan’s orders on the full implementation of the 53 per cent increase in the Consolidated Armed Forces Salary Structure (CONAFESS) since July 2010.
“Instead of implementing the 53 per cent, the Federal Government commenced implementation of 33 per cent in August 2013, leaving arrears of 20 per cent from 2010 till date,” he said.
However, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had explained to the aggrieved pensioners that the delay was due to the continuous demand for 53 per cent increase, which she insisted had left the Federal Government with huge recurrent budget and funding challenge.
Sequel to her reaction, a circular was issued indicating that the 20 per cent deduction was meant for housing scheme and tax required of the military pensioners.
Abdulmalik, however, insisted: “No military pensioner enjoys any housing scheme and constitutionally, military pensioners are not supposed to pay tax. I don’t know where they read their own law. All we know is that the deduction is illegal and we want it refunded immediately.”
He equally denied the claim by the Chairman of Military Pensions Board, Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Rabiu Dabo, that the Federal Government had commenced part payment of he arrears since February.
The retired soldiers congratulated Buhari on his electoral victory and expressed hope that he would ensure justice to the poor veterans, who had sacrificed their lives for the sovereignty of the nation.