Worrisome Plight Of Pensioners

Date:

Nigerian pensioners across the country may perhaps be counted among the most vulnerable to abuses globally. While statistics on this thesis may not be handy, it is pitiable what we gather countrywide on the state of pensioners who most times have become so deprived beyond imagination.

In many states of the federation, issues of pensioners have remained unattended to even as many of them passed on without enjoying any accruals from their hard earned sweat. It is unfair that many retirees are not considered worthy of their entitlements by state governments across the country.

Not too long ago, Abia State, South East Nigeria was in the news for a good reason. The Governor, Dr. Alex Otti reportedly paid off twenty one months arrears of pensioners and that sent wild jubilation across the state with many Abians pouring encomium for the ‘feat’ as if it was something that was unachievable in the first place. What it means is that his predecessor was also capable of paying the same but deliberately ignored these noble citizens who had served their state meritoriously. We dare ask: Wasn’t it their right to earn their pension abinitio? Why should the governor be celebrated for doing just what is right? We learnt there was wild jubilation in the state when news broke that the pensioners had been paid. This was so because paying pensioners to many seems an abberation. 

It is sad that we have thrown several aspects of our socio-economic rights to the realm of politics where political actors emphasise their will over the common good. While we applaud Otti for his bold step in handling the pensioners’ plight which has lingered for a while, we do this with a caveat: Our leaders must not play to the gallery what naturally is their duty nor politicize their efforts at bringing good governance. It is the right of the people to be served.     

The refrain is the same in many states where pensioners continue to languish in penury even as many passed on without earning their dues given the sheer callousness of their leaders. The neglect has further impoverished them as their living standard has plummeted irredeemably. Some states are reportedly owing 36 months pension arrears and are not showing any commitment to pay soon.

We empathise with these pensioners many being senior citizens who require intensive management. It is therefore inhuman to allow this crop of renowned citizens to go down their graves with regret and pain. We urge all persons in authority to reverse the trend and allow this naturally revered class of Nigerians to enjoy life in retirement.

It is instructive to stress that at the federal level, there is some form of decorum following pension reform act initiated by the then government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, though, there are still concerns in some quarters that the system requires some form of reform to give the necessary fillip. It is perhaps the concerns that may have made some security agencies pull off the National Pension Scheme, forming their own respective pension funds.

We urge the pension administrators at all levels across the country to take seriously the matters relating to pensioners , especially that not too long they also would be caught in the same web. As the axiom goes, what goes around comes around. We restate that pension is a right not a favour to beneficiaries. 

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