Group Urges FG to Pay Pension Arrears

Olufemi Odewabi

Ebere Nwoji

A group of pensioners under the umbrella body of Association of Retired Federal Senior Public Officers of Nigeria (ARFESPON), Lagos branch, has called on federal government to extend the minimum wage increase to pensioners and to pay arrears of 20.4 per cent increase in workers’ salaries effected by federal government under the leadership of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010.

The pensioners, said increasing pensioners’ benefits alongside salaries of serving workers’ salaries would be in accordance with Nigerian constitution.

ARFESPON President, Mr Olufemi Odewabi, who made this call in a statement made available to THISDAY.

He quoted Section 173, sub-section 3 of the Nigerian constitution on Pension benefits as saying, “Pension shall be reviewed every five years or together with any federal civil service reviews, whichever is earlier.”

Commenting on the 20.4 per cent deduction which he said government was owing arrears to pensioner for nine years, Odewabi, said whereas section 173 sub-section 4 of the Nigerian constitution says that pension in respect of service in the public service of the federation shall not be taxed, the committee set up by the Goodluck Jonathan administration taxed the pensioners’ benefits in addition to other deductions it made in 2010, leaving them with just 33 per cent increase instead of 53 per cent, whereas serving workers’ salaries were increased by 53 per cent.

He explained that the above 20.4 per cent outstanding pension benefit was balance of the 53 percent increase effected by Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to workers’ salaries but which was erroneously deducted by the adhoc committee set up by the presidency.

He said though the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has tried by clearing the outstanding 33 per cent increase, it has remained silent on the outstanding 20.4 percent balance which arrears of nine years it is still owing the pensioners.
He also reminded government of the need to obey the constitution by effecting the minimum wage increase on pensioners’ benefit as stipulated by law.

According to him, though the association’s members have been yearning for payment of the 20.4 per cent arrears for more than three years, PTAD has refused to make a categorical statement on that.