Military pensioners have concluded a showdown with the Federal Government for the latterâ€™s failure to meet its pension obligation to them.
The military pensioners are come with a nationwide protest that would climax on Wednesday July 13, 2016, at Aso Rock gate, Abuja, by 0900 hrs.
The coordinator of the protest, Col. Azubuike Nass (rtd) told The Nation in an interview : â€œWe continue to demand our pension rights. We have paid our dues in patriotic service to this nation. We deserve our pension rights when we are alive, not when we are dead.
â€œThis nation (Nigeria) is not too poor to pay our constitutional pension rights. We can not be intimidated into silence on this matter.
â€œWe (military pensioners) are yet to see any clear sign of being paid part of our owed arrears. Available info (discreet and open sources) indicated parts of the arrears were collated by governmentÂ in September 2015 and included in Budget 2016 draft. 33% arrears which is Government -accepted and computed sum, with officialÂ circular to relevant Federal government offices that deal with pension issues, was understood to be in the Budget.â€
Nass further queried : â€œWas our arrears a victim of bureaucratic falsification and mutilation that occured in Budget 2016?Â Was it cut down or expunged by NASS in its â€˜scrutinisationâ€™?Â Or is it covered in a different sub-head yet to be clarified?â€
The military pensioners were sceptical thatÂ â€œMr President is most likely unaware of the true situationâ€, adding â€œWe need to do something to bring the issue to Mr Presidentâ€™s attention.â€
Insisting that 53% pay increase for pensioners was duly approved by Federal Â Government in 2010, following similar public service pay increase of 2009, and in accordance with the provisions of Sect 173 of Constitution. They regretted thatÂ governmentÂ resisted to pay it for years.
Nass said : â€œWhile yet unpaid, governmentÂ in 2013 slashed off 20% as tax (remaining 33%). It was clearly illegal to tax pension. With much protest pressure, governmentÂ in JanuaryÂ 2015 started paying it in bits spread over 3 yrs, as if to allow us slowly die off. We objected to it.
â€œWe suspended protest to allow the new government budget for payment of the balance in 2016. Budget 2016 turns out to be same token bits spread for 2 yrs. This is not acceptable. 33% is the smaller part of our unpaid pension rights. Harmonizing our pay rate with those of serving colleagues in line with 2011 Minimum Wage, is still dragging. Military pensioners will be set to resume protests at the Presidency to demand payment of balance of 33% this year 2016. We get set for series of protests.â€
Culled from THE NATION