By Dimeji Kayode-Adedeji
Hundreds of retired workers of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Thursday in Abeokuta held a peaceful protest over failure of government to pay their 15 months’ pension arrears and gratuities.
The protest under the banner of the Nigerian Television Authority Contributory Pensioners’ Association (NTACOPMAN) was led by the Interim National President of the group, Kayode Da-Silva.
They marched to the Iwe Iroyin Press Centre in the Ogun State capital, with placards with inscriptions such as: “Federal Government Don’t Kill us of Hunger”, “Please give us our money”, “Pencom Don’t Divert 15% and 33% pension increase of CPS retirees for Management Enjoyment”’, “Federal Government is Yet to Pay Contributory Pensioners after one year of Retirement”, and “Pencom Please pay our 33% and 15% Pension Arrears”.
Speaking with journalists at the centre, Mr Da-Silva said the condition of the retirees was lamentable.
“’It is often said that rest is sweet after labour, but for Nigerian workers, the reverse is the case. To our senior citizens rest is sweat after labour.”
They demanded the federal government base pension and gratuity on first-line-charge, rather than on budgetary allocation.
“After all, verification exercises take place one year before pensioners go on retirement. This period is long enough for proper and effective planning. Another point of concern to us as contributory pensioners of the federal government is the non-payment of 33% and 15% to us,” Mr Da-Silva said.
”This is being paid to federal pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme(DBS).
“The issue has been lingering for over four years now. When the federal government released N54.1billion to Pencom a couple of months ago, the impression given was that the released fund was specifically for payment of the salary arrears of 33 per cent and 15 per cent.”
He said the pensioners heaved a sigh of relief at the news, “but the joy was short-lived, as the money released was used by Pencom in paying outstanding gratuity and monthly pension arrears of pensioners who had not received a dime after retirement.
“We hereby call for immediate settlement of the arrears due to us, which according to Pencom had already been captured in 2018 approved budget. The Federal Government should not make such payment less worthy and meaningful to beneficiaries.”
On the impending general salary review, the protesters appealed to government at all levels to remember to include pensioners as beneficiaries of the increase.