Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) condemns the Federal Government and state governments dehumanizing treatment of pensioners. The death of one NIPOST retiree among those protesting for 49 months arrears at General Post Office in Ikeja, Lagos and another death of 3 pensioners who died while doing verification in Lagos shows that the situation of these old people is getting alarming and, also, a disturbing trend. These pensioners would not have died if things are properly handled.

According to the Nation Newspaper’s report, these deaths “bring to 179 the number of pensioners who have died waiting for their pension.” In the Channels TV news of July 8, 2010 one of the NIPOST retirees wept publicly complaining of his inability to pay the schools of 2 children in higher institutions. In the same vein, the Super screen TV on July 9, 2010 reported the death of 3 pensioners who died in Lagos while doing verification. Yet, we are yet to see any former state governors or presidents do verification before their unwarranted and unjustified pension/gratuity/severance package were paid.

In utter contrast a bill is being worked upon by the Kwara State House of Assembly wherein governors and deputy governors since 1999 and their immediate families are entitled to medical attention both in Nigeria and abroad at a cost to the state, annual vacations of 30 days outside Nigeria with 30 days estacodes and travel allowances for the governor, travel expenses allowances for the governor, three cars for the governor and in addition one pilot and two backup cars to be replaced every three years en bloc, furniture allowance payable every two years en bloc amongst others. Using Kwara state as a case study, Dr. Bukola Saraki who could not put in place qualitative and affordable health care system and other basic infrastructure during the 7 years he has been in power, is devising a method (Bill) to get quality health care in Nigeria and abroad at the expense of people. One can be sure this bill will be passed in record time while bills meant to improve the wellbeing of Nigerians will be delayed perpetually or will be killed like we have seen with Freedom of Information Bill. This is the kind of huge and growing inequality that is going on in all states and at the federal level. The working masses who from all ramifications create this wealth have continued to suffer.

This unfair treatment is the general run at all levels of government. In certain cases, pensioners, most of them old and sick, are made to travel long distances only to be kept under the sun and without due attention, just to come and do verification. It appears that verification is a grand design to have the pensioners die one after the other in order to enrich those in charge of disbursement, some of whom the money is domiciled in their account and continue to yield interest, which partly explains the reasons there are unnecessary delays. If the verification must be carried out, it should be done at the 774 local governments so that the exercise is carried out close to the pensioners’ homes while the cost and convenience of the pensioners from their houses to the local government secretariat should be fully catered for by the respective governments. Where it is not possible for certain pensioners to make it to the local government for health and other reasons, the pension board or such agencies must carry out such verification in their houses.

CDWR also frowns at the poverty wage being paid to pensioners across the federation. We see no justification for a pensioner to be paid peanut while the cost of living keeps going up. These are pensioners who are prone to sickness in a country with collapsing and expensive health care system coupled with the fact that there is no social security in the country. We call on the federal, state and local governments, for a living minimum wage of N52, 000 to be paid to pensioners and to be increased with the rate of inflation and adequate compensation paid to the family of all pensioners who died while doing verification or protesting for their money. This is unmindful of the fact that the best form of social security for the old, young and adult is for basic infrastructure to be upgraded to a qualitative state that can meet the needs (housing, education, food, electricity, health, leisure etc) of all.

We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their affiliating trade union leaders to defend the interest of pensioners despite being retirees. The trade union leaders cannot close their eyes to the crisis the pensioners are undergoing since most workers will retire one day. These pensioners were the people who built this economy to this extent and made enormous sacrifices, an economy that would have been far better than this if not for the corruption, brazen looting and wasteful activities of a few privileged individuals. So, the Nigerian pensioners and workers need to be respected and treated with decency.

Rufus Olusesan
Victor Osakwe