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98% of federal pensioners are unpaid - FCP

By The Citizen
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There appears no respite yet for federal pensioners, as about 98 per cent of them have been reportedly denied monthly stipends for three months.

The Lagos State Coordinator, Federal Concerned Pensioners, Mr. David Adodo, stated this in interview with our correspondent in Lagos.

He said the affected pensioners had either been seriously underpaid, or totally denied their pensions since November last year.

This is coming barely a week after about 50 federal pensioners in Abuja protested against what they described as unholy manner with which the OHCSF was interfering in their pensions.

The protesters had suggested that the Pension Reform Task Team headed by Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina be ordered to resume payment of their pensions from January 2013 'without further delay.'

The Head of Service was directed to take over the payment of the pensions in November last year following reports that the Pension Reform Task Force could not substantiate allegation of fraud against pension thieves and persistent complaints of irregularities by the pensioners.

Adodo said, 'Since November, 98 per cent of our members are either seriously underpaid, or totally denied their pensions.'

He recalled that the Pension Reform Task Force was established in 2010 because the office of the Head of Service, which used to handle the pension payment, subjected pensioners to hardship.

He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to establish an independent competent body to handle the pensions.

He said, 'The President should stop the Head of Civil Service of the Federation from further interfering in pensioners' money. We were denied our pensions in November and December 2012. We did the Christmas and New Year in hunger. Many of us can't eat well or pay for our medications.'

Adodo also said that the Federal Government should institutionalise the pension reform, take the gains and database of the PRT and provide a civilian pension board or Ministry of Pension Affairs, to solve the problem.

Some of the pensioners, who spoke to our correspondent at a pension meeting in Lagos during the week, listed some of their problems as underpayment of pensions, outright denial of pensions, omission of their names from the payroll and default in gratuity.

A pensioner, Mr. Arashi Lawal, alleged that there was power tussle between the PRT and the Head of Service, which was preventing them from working in a coordinated manner to solve pensioners' problems.

He said, 'How can you put two captains in a ship? See what is happening to pensioners, November and December monthly pensions are unpaid, many of our members have not been paid. The PRT and the HOS are both responsible for our pensions. We don't know who is serving us and pensioners are dying.'

But the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Isa Bello-Sali, had denied underpaying any pensioners on their pay-roll.

He also said all the pensioners were fully paid their pensions for November and December 2012 and advised those with genuine complaints to forward them to the Pensions Office in the OHCSF or their state councils of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners.

The Information and Media Relations Officer, PRT, Mr. Hassan Salihu, said that for now, the duty of paying pensioners had been taken over by the OHCSF.

The Director, Press and Public Relations, OHCSF, Mr. Tope Ajakaiye, said, 'The OHCSF took over the payment of monthly pensions in November 2012 in line with the new Federal Government's policy on public financial management reform and the new Government Integrated Financial Management Information System being implemented through the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.' (Punch)