Nigerian Pensioners: No Longer At Ease

The sound of a beautiful music comes with a well packaged melody that strikes the cords with deep feelings without a moment of restraint. The joy of a fruitful service rendered in the course of working for your fatherland, is always expected to come with a huge pay after retirement.

However, it is pathetic to know that some Nigerians still wander and ponder over unpaid pension money accrued to them after labouring effortlessly for their fatherland during their active days.

What could have been an additional impetus meant to sustain their various families without any sort of stress, has become another round of bout where tooth and nail now grind under the scorching sunshine and torrential rainfall before any tangible result could be achieved.

Besides, the scenes of old men and women with different health related conditions, whose lives rest on the little token the Nigerian government will offer them queuing, breaks my heart in pieces because these are Nigerians who fortunately or unfortunately ought to be enjoying the fruit of their labours at this age.

In fact, in the cause of fighting for their pensions, few have crossed the way to their grave without setting sights on what they have come to agitate for. Is this truly a way to treat dedicated, patriotic and loyal men and women of our country when night falls?

According to Levi Obijiofor in an article titled 'The art of ingratitude', he said:"Retirement is something that every honest worker looks forward to in many parts of the world. Not so in Nigeria. When people retire in western societies, they receive their gratuities promptly and their pension entitlements are paid on a regular basis.

It is often taken for granted (and rightly so) that people who spend the better part of their lives working for the development of their society expect that when they retire, they would draw a regular income from their retirement funds."

"That assumption holds true in developed countries but in Nigeria it is a complicated story. Retirement fund managers, in particular those responsible for managing and paying the pension entitlements of retired federal civil servants who worked for the Police, the railways, the Judiciary and the Armed Forces, make things extremely difficult. It must not be misconstrued that these are the only public service departments whose retired workers experience hardship in receiving their pension entitlements. Indeed the list is endless."

I could hardly imagine if this is the way some respected retired Nigerian leaders irrespective of their political offices could have gone through this same ugly nightmare. I doubt! Let alone the relatives of ministers or senators Consequently, the Nigerian government as far as I’m concerned has shown less interest in resuscitating the plight of pensioners in Nigeria, despite some media reports claiming adequate modalities have been created by the government to resolve this lingering problem.

Interestingly, it is in Nigeria that the issue of ghost-pensioners has become a key issue, where even the caretaker of the house knows not where they originated from. Yet, millions and billions are being paid to them at will, at the expense of other pensioners in what seem to be a usual trend in the country.

The problem of non-payments of pension entitlements in Nigeria is a simple matter complicated by acts of human dishonesty. It is a human problem but not insurmountable. It is a problem that requires sheer grit, commitment and determination to overcome.

It requires people in positions of authority to assume their responsibilities and how accountability in the discharge of their duties. It is not enough for Nigerians to whine about the problems that exist in their country. They must be seen to be tackling those problems.

The government of President Muhammadu Buhari should as a matter of urgency endeavour to draw out concrete plans on how to allocate and distribute funds meant for Nigerian pensioners, so as to erase their painful plight and build a reassured hope for the future where Nigerians will give out their best for the service of their fatherland.

By Ehis Austine

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