NLC, pensioners protest over N36b outstanding entitlements
Kano State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), yesterday, demanded immediate payment of over N36 billion outstanding gratuities of retirees.
It also warned state ministries, parastatals and agencies to, henceforth, stop the illegal monthly milking of senior citizens.
Addressing journalists at a peaceful protest organised in solidarity with the Kano State Union of Pensioners, the NLC chapter chairman, Comrade Kabiru Ado Minjibir, decried the precarious condition of retirees since the stagnation of their entitlements in the last six years.
Minjibir, who led the march from Emir’s House to Government House, deplored the “illegal deductions by some ministries and government agencies from the depreciated monthly pensions of retirees.”
He said between January 2021 and August 2022, over N3.4 billion was deducted from monthly entitlements of state and local government retirees that were neither lodged with pension fund administrators (PFAs) nor known accounts.
His words: “As we speak, the current outstanding gratuities and other benefits as of June 2022 stand at over N36 billion. In the case of unremitted 17 per cent contributions from defaulting government agencies that stand at over N69 billion, the deductions were part of our contributions from the pension, which were supposed to be remitted to administrators. These agencies failed to remit the funds.
“Apart from that, retirees have been suffering from indiscriminate deductions in the name of the tax, which are against Section 173 (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) that kicked against payment of tax from the pension. This is worrisome despite the fact that pensioners have never enjoyed an increase even when the Federal Government passed the law on new pensions and minimum wage.
On his part, the Chairman, of the state pensioners union, Comrade Salisu Ahmad Gwale, regretted that over 34,000 members are living in abject poverty due to the economic devaluation of their monthly entitlements.
He is worried that several retirees had died while struggling to get their benefits.
Receiving the protesters, Chief of Staff to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Usman Bala, who attributed the problem to the neglect of previous administrations, however, assured the people of the commitment of the current administration to resolve the matter.
Bala, who doubles as Head of Service, stressed that his principal will soon unveil a sustainable policy solution to address the sufferings of retirees in the state.