James Sowole in Akure
Disturbed by the untold hardship facing retirees, which was caused by unpaid gratuities and pensions, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Thursday said members would institute a legal action against the 36 state governors in Nigeria.
The decision announced by the South-west Zonal Chairman and Spokesman of the NUP, Chief Ayo Kumapayi, and Mr. Olusegun Abati respectively, was part of the resolution at the zonal meeting which ended Thursday in Akure, Ondo State capital.
Speaking to journalists, Kumapayi blamed the failure of the state governors to pay gratuities and pensions regularly on reckless spending on humongous salaries and allowances of political office holders.
He said: “Humongous salaries and allowances of public office holders especially, senators and House of Representatives members who take home N13 million and N14 million monthly need to be reviewed.
“How can those people be collecting such huge money in a country where 80 per cent of the people is battling to meet daily meal.”
He also demanded the review of the law setting up the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to empower it to place all the political office holders, including the president, governors, ministers, federal and state lawmakers on the same salary scale with civil servants from Grade Level-18 to Grade Level-25 in the country.
This, he said, would save the country’s economy from collapsing and enable government to have more money to take care of the needs of the less-privileged Nigerians who wallow in abject poverty and deprivation.
“President Muhammadu Buhari should use his second term in office to do something about the emolument of our federal lawmakers. They should be placed on same salary scale with the civil servants to reduce pressure on the nation’s economy.
“Those who want to genuinely serve, will be willing to take whatever is prescribed because political offices have been turned to money making ventures and no longer for service to humanity.
“Let the President be on GL 25, Vice President will be on GL 24, governors on GL 23 downward like that, this will save our nation from reckless and killing salaries and allowances”, Kumapayi said.
He commended President Buhari for the step he took to grant financial autonomy to local government, saying the decision would prevent many state governors from spending local governments’ money.
Also speaking to journalists, Abati said the legal action became imperative in view of the rising cases of sick and untimely death of pensioners as a result of unpaid entitlements by the state governments of Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun and Ondo as well as other parts of the country.
Also commenting on the decision of the zone, the National Deputy General Secretary of the union, Chief Joseph Okunade, said the national leadership of the pensioners was in full support of the legal action against the state governors.
Okunade said: “Like our South-West zone, we at the national level call for the inclusion of retirees in the new N30, 000 minimum wage; and let it be known as the National Minimum Pension. We advise governors who are grumbling over the payment of the new wage to shun frivolous spending to enable them meet workers’ and pensioners’ needs”.