The Lagos State chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Najeemdeen Ibrahim, has appealed to the State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, to ensure that his administration pays the three-year arrears of 142 per cent pension increment approved by the Federal Government in 2000.
He also called on the state government to implement further increases of six per cent and 15 per cent as directed by the Federal Government in 2003 and 2007 respectively.
Mr. Ibrahim, who addressed journalists on the struggle for the actualisation of their demand yesterday, stated that when the 142 per cent increment was announced by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2000, Lagos State did not implement it, which forced the pensioners to head to court.
The union chair recalled that the judge decided the case in their favour ordering the state government not only to implement the increment, but to also pay all the arrears to the pensioners.
“Out of the six-year arrears, the state government paid only three years, leaving a balance of three years”, Mr. Ibrahim said. “That was for the 142 per cent. The state has not even implemented the six per cent and 15 per cent. So we are calling on the Babatunde Raji Fashola administration to ensure the payment of these arrears and implementation of the six per cent and 15 per cent increment before leaving office”.
According to him, the union has written several letters to the state government on the payment of the three years’ arrears but government has not been forthcoming.
When the government was not responding to the letters, the union members embarked on protests to the state governor’s office.
During one of such protests, Mr. Ibrahim said the governor attended to them, assuring that his administration would pay the arrears before his tenure ended.
“Indeed, a circular was released in November (2014) that the government will pay the three years arrears in instalment”, the NUP boss, who also doubles as the southwest chairman of the union explained. “They promised to pay the first 18 months, then spread the remaining 18 months over six months of three month arrears each together with the implementation of the six per cent and 15 per cent increment”.
According to him, the government did fulfill its promise but it was not all encompassing.
“They only paid the Alausa pensioners leaving out local government, state parastatals and primary school teaching and non-teaching pensioners”, Mr. Ibrahim said.
He stated that when they raised an eyebrow on the discriminatory payment, the government said it was the mainstream category they paid first.
“We don’t know when that started”, he said. “All along there has not been any discrimination in pensioners’ issue. Honestly, I’m surprised that the Lagos State Government is treating us this way, it is very unfair”.
The patron of the union, Rasheed Olu-Ajayi, stated that the present government should ensure the payment of all the arrears before the expiration of its tenure.
“It is rather unfortunate that the government is being discriminatory in paying the arrears”, Mr. Rasheed Olu-Ajayi said. “These are people that served the state to the best of their ability. As I’m talking to you, there are several others who have not even been paid their gratuities”.