… “Come save us before we all die” they plead with Buhari

Kingsley Abavo, Benin

 

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Members of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), Electricity sector has appealed for the urgent intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari in the alleged manipulations of their gratuity and other entitlement by the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).

They say this becomes very necessary as their Union is a dying one. “Nobody comes to join us anymore. Only few of us are still alive, when we die, our money will have been lost forever.”

The Union is demanding payment of arrears of monetization, harmonization, collective security rebate since the year 2000, which they say are still pending.

Addressing journalists in Benin City, Edo State capital last week, vice -Chairman, South – South Zone Comrade Monday Adodo complain that “members that were screened for payment have been maliciously removed from the payroll.

“My assistant secretary has not been paid for five months; my treasurer whose case was earlier resolved has again been removed. There are a lot of them that are yet to be paid in the south – south zone.

“So, we will continue to protest, and they will see the worst of all protest by old men. If the money has been given by NEBCO to PTAD, why has PTAD not paid us?”

Saying it was unfair for the pensioners to be ill-treated after 35 years of service to the nation, they condemn PTAD appeal asking for their patience until the Federal Government releases fund. “It is an ambiguous statement.”

“It is ambiguous because if the Federal Government is bringing money in the next 20 years, how many of us will be left? It then means many of us will not get their money” Adodo said.

He pointed out that many of the pensioners left service about 11years ago and the money for their payment was transferred to PTAD in 2014.

“So, why has PTAD not paid us? What is holding the money since then? Who is sitting on our money?”

Expressing the fear that they may not live to be paid following the unending delay, they said at a time, the Union had the numerical strength of 15,000 members, which has dropped to about 12,000 even as more members are dying.

“Invariably, when our members die, someone in PTAD will collect the money. We are aware that the money has been given to PTAD by the Federal Government” Adodo said.

Treasurer of the Union, comrade Mrs. Josephine Ono in her own narrative: “after biomterics capturing, my name was removed from the payroll. I did not know what happened. When we visited PTAD office, it was resolved. But my name has again been removed from the payroll and I was not paid for the month of February. I don’t know what is going on.”

Also speaking, the Union assistant secretary, Comrade Oris Oritse said: “God and Government have made it possible for us to get our pension. But those put in position have made it impossible.

“After the verification exercise, more 6,000 names were removed from the payroll. I happen to be one of them, and member of the executive. After I led a protest to PTAD, the anomaly was rectified.

“But I am surprised that in the month of January, every other person was paid, I was not paid. In spite of the promise that the omission will be corrected and I will be paid, this is the month of March, I still have not been paid.

“Members are dying steadily. There is no meeting day that the death of one or two members is not announced.”

Hence the appeal for the urgent intervention of the President, Muhammadu Buhari,  Oritse reiterated.

The pensioners expressed suspicion that there is a deliberate manipulation going on in PTAD to withhold their money, to be subverted to private pockets after they may have died.

But in reaction, PTAD source in the Benin office who for official protocol did not want to be identified, said the prevailing problem is caused by existence of two rival group in the electricity sector; ‘Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) Electricity sector, and the Electricity Sector Retirees Welfare Association (ESREWA).

Hence PTAD really do not know which is the genuine body to deal with in resolving issues of constraints.

The source therefore adviced that the aggrieved union should take their protest to Abuja, and try meet with PTAD executive secretary, Dr. Chioma N. Ejikeme as the only way out of the ugly situation.