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NLC STRIKES AGAINST PENSION SCAM

This pension matter will not go away. Why should it? We will all be pensioners one day unless the rapture comes soon. If you do not understand what I mean by rapture, go and read 1 Thessalonians 4:17 for a wonderful rendition of a glorious future. However, this is not supposed to be a Sunday school lesson, even though there are many pensioners that teach in churches globally every Sunday morning, using their wealth of experience to bless the younger generation. In fact, Jimmy Carter, the former American President is renowned for continuing to teach Sunday School at his old Georgia church. So, why do we throw away our retirees. The appropriate question is why are we cheating our pensioners of their just compensation?

Some weeks back, I wrote about the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) as a Panacea to Pension Scam and looked at Delta State example. I also piggybacked on my other two articles on Maina Mania and last year's piece on Contributory Pension Scheme or Scam. It is now clear there will be no end to the pension hoopla until the government brings down a serious axe on it.

In early 2011 during the fuel subsidy fiasco, I asked whether we still need the NLC in a democracy. As the last Bastion of the common working man, they have decided to wade into the pension controversy. NLC has given the federal government an ultimatum to start prosecuting pension fraudsters or they will go on a nationwide strike. To buttress their point, they are calling off all workers in Lagos and Abuja on Wednesday, April 10, 2013.

I am not belittling their efforts, but it would have been nice if the strike was on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 or Thursday, March 28, 2013 so that these workers could at least get a longer Easter vacation. At the rate we are going with the pension matters, the pensioner that retired under the Pay-As-you-Go scheme may not have any money because some people have carted their money away. I was thinking that one of the placards they should carry should say “Thank God for CPS.”

Recently, Mr. Ugo Osuya interviewed me for the show “Make We Settle the Matter” that airs Thursday at 7pm on Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS), for an episode on this same pension matters. The same conclusion was reached, which is that we are happy that CPS is now in the fore, especially in Delta. In fact, based on the impending strike by NLC, we decided to speak to the Secretary to Delta State Government Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay, since he happens to be the only current SSG in any State of the federation, who has also served two terms as State chairman of NLC. He was Chairman, Delta State Council of Nigeria Labour Congress from 1993-1999. The SSG, Comrade Macaulay stated as follows, “As a former union leader I understand NLC's qualms and the gravamen of their complaint on behalf of pensioners. Nonetheless, in Delta State, we made sure we kicked off our CPS timely and foreclosed avenues for fraud, thanks to His Excellency, Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, CON.”

The impending strike is actually supposed to be a work-free day to show solidarity with the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP). The National President of NUP, Ali Abatcha, stated that they are ready to fight on unless their demands are met, which include (1) payment of outstanding arrears of pensions to numerous retirees; (2) enrolment of pensioners in FGN Pensions payroll; (3) payment of death benefits to next of kin, and (5) implementation of the 53.4 per cent salary review in pensioners' payments.

According to NLC President, Mr. Abdulwaheed Omar, “an active worker today is a pensioner tomorrow” and “an injury to one is injury to all.” In other words, we should be our brother's (and sisters) keeper because we may be in the same boat someday.

NLC claims to have sent two previous letters to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, pleading for his intervention, but to no avail. Ergo, the NLC issued the following communiqué:

“The congress had written at least two letters to the presidency calling for its intervention in the pension crisis; coupled with the correspondences, the leadership of congress had reached out through other channels to the federal government; the congress leadership had also made public pronouncements on the avoidable, but painful pension crisis. The CWC noted with dismay that the Presidency neither acknowledged the letters nor responded to the issues the leadership of the congress publicly raised on the plight of pensioners. Convinced that the congress had exploited all the lawful channels of communication to the government to no avail, concerned that despite the unprecedented scam in the pension regime and the raging war of words between the executive and the National Assembly, pensioners remain the main victims with a teeming number of pensioners not being paid, congress is certain that nobody wants to listen to the plight of pensioners. Worried that the continued silence of the government means more hardship for its members in the fold of the National Union of Pensioners, NUP, and determined to ensure justice for its members who are owed billions of pension arrears, the CWC resolved that on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, all NLC affiliate unions and state councils across the length and breadth of the country will mobilise workers on a protest march to the presidency and state government houses.”

The Acting NLC President, Promise Adewuni, confirmed the strike at a recent news conference.

So, will the EFCC, Police & Presidency listen this time? Tick! Tick! Tick!

Prof Alex O. Atawa-Akpodiete is an author, Computer Scientist, Educator, Consultant, lawyer, Political Analyst, Public affair analyst & Social commentator. He has a Doctorate degree in Jurisprudence from the US. He has lectured Law, Ethics and Security & Intelligence Studies at the University level here in Nigeria and US. He also writes for a state daily newspaper & national monthly journal. He currently divides his time between Nigeria and USA where he runs a PR and an international capacity-building firm ATAWA GROUP. Contact him on 08138391661 or [email protected] He is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Prof. Alex O. Atawa Akpodiete, Esq. and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Prof. Alex O. Atawa Akpodiete, Esq.