NLC President, Abdulwaheed Omar
Chineme Okafor and Seriki Adinoyi
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency dissolve the Abdulrasheed Maina-led Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) over its refusal to take into consideration pensioners in Nigeria in its proceedings.
The NLC also demanded that the Head of Service whom the brief of federal pensioners come under his jurisdiction should be allowed to handle the pension matters henceforth.
President of NLC, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, who made this demand at the occasion of the 11th Pensioners Day in Abuja, expressed his displeasure with the plight of pensioners in the country, President Goodluck Jonathan to allow existing bureaucratic structure in the civil service to work.
Omar said: “If the task force which was put in place to solve a problem is not doing what it is put in place to do, then it should go. In spite of the claim that the task force carried out biometric exercise, most of the pensioners are yet to be captured.”
He further stated: “This is the essence of the union and it is the responsibility of government to ensure that every pensioners is captured and also put in the payroll and paid when it is due.
“One of the windows is the ongoing constitution review; we must rally round to make sure that all the grey areas that are giving us concern are addressed together with the lawmakers so that a proper thing is done. For instance, the issue of harmonisation of the increment in pension that it has to rise with the increment in salary.”
According to him: “We have done a letter to Mr. President appealing that this issue be resolved but unfortunately we are yet to get an acknowledgement before we could talk of addressing the issue but definitely what everybody is after is result, that is, every pensioners be paid without anybody being left out.
“So, whether it is task force or whatever name you call it that claims to have done some work but the people on ground are showing that the work is not well done because either some have not been paid or short-changed, or some are not even captured in the biometric. This is something serious that ought to have been listened to before now. But we are still going to make contact and thank God now that the Head of Service has intervened.”
“We believe that with his sincerity the matter would be addressed even that the whole thing about federal pensioner is under his watch so he can handle it. One thing I must tell Mr. President is that he should allow the bureaucratic structure to work and that is the only way out.
What I mean is that federal pension is under the Head of Service of the Federation so he should handle it but if people will be bypassing the Head of Service and relate with the President over this pension issue under any name, then the Head of Service would be seen as incapable or rendered useless and at the end of the day that would amount to gross abuse of civil service rule.”
National President of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Comrade Ali Abatcha, had earlier called for the implementation of the report of the Senate Committee which indicted the PRTT officials for criminal prosecution.
In another development, the NLC has defied a court order and shutting down the city of Jos, as most banks and business premises did not open for transaction yesterday.
THISDAY also gathered that the residence of a member representing Langtang South constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Hon. Joyce Ramnap, was burnt.
Also burnt were the residences of the Management Committee Chairman of Langtang South, Mr. Nanman Darko and the residence of the Commissioner for Youth Development, who is also from Langtang South, Mr. Bako Domfa.
Recalled that local government workers in the state had been on strike for the past seven months over the non-implementation of National Minimum Wage.
Although there was no mass protest in Jos, THISDAY observed that most banks in the city in compliance with the NLC directive did not open to customers.
Also, other Federal Government agencies had their offices locked.
Some roads leading from Jos to other parts of the state were barricaded by youths in solidarity with the workers.
At the state secretariat, no one was allowed entry into the premises.
The state government had last week Friday, in an attempt to stop labour’s impending total strike action, obtained a court injunction from the National Industrial Court (NIC) sitting in Jos, restraining the organised labour from going ahead with the strike.
Labour, however, through the state Chairman of the NLC, Jibrin Banchir, said it planned to go on with the strike as a directed by the national headquarters as it was not served with the injunction.
The Attorney-General of the state, Mr. Edward Pwajok, said as law-abiding government, the state and local governments decided to file an application with the NIC in Abuja against the planned NLC action because of their belief in the rule of law.
He added that following the court’s ruling, the workers in the state should resume their normal duties today and go about their activities without any fear of molestation.
“Government workers in the state and the state civil servants are expected on their duty posts,” he added.
Also, the Special Task Force (STF) and the police had discouraged the NLC from going ahead with the strike.
The spokesman of STF, Captain Salisu Mustapha, at a press briefing at the weekend in Jos, had said the strike “is capable of jeopardising the relative peace currently been enjoyed in the state
But Banchir said Labour decided to withdraw its services because of the lingering crisis between it and the state government which has lasted for seven months.
Labour added that Governor Jonah Jang, who shunned the court when it restrained him from swearing in Local Government Management Committee Chairmen, should not now think that he can use the same court to intimidate them.