Published On: Fri, Aug 11th, 2017

400 Niger pensioners die pursuing gratuity – Union

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Pensioners, otherwise referred to as Senior Citizens of Nigeria (SCN)

Pensioners, otherwise referred to as Senior Citizens of Nigeria (SCN)

From Yakubu Mustapha, Minna

Niger state pensioners yesterday staged a peaceful protest to the state House of Assembly over bill that was passed same day in the House.
The pensioners lamented that over 400 members have died while pursuing gratuity and other entitlements.
The aged people most of whom were between 65 to 70 years old insisted on not vacating the Assembly complex despite assurance from the Speaker, Alhmed Marafa Guni that the bill was ready for passage.
The pensioners under the umbrella of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners reportedly laid siege on the Assembly as early as 9 am demanding the passage of an executive bill titled “A bill for a law to amend the law establishing the contributory Pension Scheme for employees in the public service of Niger state and for other matters connected therewith.”
The Chairman of the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Yahaya Umaru Katcha said in an interview in Minna that his members have not been paid their gratuity and allowances since 2013 amounting to over N36 billion.
Umaru Katcha hinted that his members will continue to occupy the Assembly complex until the bill was passed and members begin to receive alert on payment of gratuity and other entitlements.
He lamented that his members were dying almost on daily basis due to hardship occasioned by nonpayment of retirement benefits adding that, “we have lost over 400 in the struggle to get our entitlements.”
However, the Niger state government has revealed that it has traced the alleged missing N6.2 billion of the 7.5% employer/employee deductions made on behalf of the state SUBEB and local governments from 2007 to March 2015.
The state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello disclosed in Minna at the opening ceremony of the sensitization workshop on effective pension management and administration in Niger state.
He said that the government has carried out a forensic audit of the transactions of Contributory Pension Scheme CPS in the period under review and established the sum of N5.779 billion was verified as funds not remitted to the pension board but was corruptly stolen by officials of the past administration in the state.
The Governor noted that the funds were siphoned by those involved to enrich themselves to the detriment of the civil servants and pensioners. He reiterated the commitment of his administration in payment of pension as first line charge just like the workers’ salary.
Deputy governor, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ketso said that the state government will ensure accountability of those funds when recovered from the looters.
Also addressing the protesters, the Speaker and members of the Assembly went into plenary during which the bill was passed with a recommendation to the state Governor to assent the bill speedily and commence payment of the pensioners immediately.
Addressing a press conference after passage of the bill, the Chairman House Committee on Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Shuaibu Liman Iya explained that the Assembly was not intimidated into passing the bill.
He said that the lawmakers have the interest of the pensioners at heart and that the Assembly will do everything possible to avert unnecessary crisis especially when it involved the elderly people that had served the state meritoriously.

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