Buhari In The Eyes Of Pensioners

Nigeria News takes a look at the performance of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government in the area of pensions.

A month ago, President Muhammadu Buhari approved N22.68 billion for the payment of Pensioners of the liquidated Nigeria Airways.

Before then, he had approved the payment of retired Biafran soldiers, many of whom had died in penury due to the negligence of previous administrations.

As a matter of fact, a former Head of the Presidential task force on pension, Abdukrasheed Maina was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for alleged pension fraud during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

He went on self-exile but was reabsorbed back into Buhari’s government through the back door. He had since been sacked by the government.

Since Maina’s dismissal from the Federal Government service, nothing is being said about him and those who helped him back into the system. Except that the EFCC will dust Maina’s case file tomorrow, a fugitive is now a free man in Nigeria.

Another serious fraud that may soon be opened to the public is in the pension administration scheme, introduced by the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Nigeria workers pay into this scheme every month but many of them may not reap what they have sown if care is not taken. It is a scam that the government will need to take a critical look at.

However, millions of pensioners across the country have been experiencing a sigh of relief since the current administration assumed power. In Ibadan, Oyo State, I ran into an old man who narrated a good story about the present government.

Pa Salaudeen Olalekan worked with the Federal Ministry of Works. He described the verification exercise for pensioners as better, compared to what the past administrations had done.

“I was surprised. They gave us plates of rice while we went through the verification exercise. Amazing,” he said. To him, pensioners are praying for Buhari to come back. Most pensioners now get their entitlements regularly.

“How I wish millions of pensioners that are praying for Buhari can troop out in 2019 to vote for Buhari,” he said. Olalekan’s story is not different from that of other pensioners who now enjoy better treatment when taking their pensions. Much of these pensions are paid in arrears anyway.

Buhari’s government has done well in this aspect of the economy, paying pensioners regularly but little has been reported about this.

But the question to ask is whether it is the prayers of pensioners or their votes that should matter to Buhari in 2019?

As the November 18 draws nearer when the political campaign will begin, one would expect the Buhari’s team to emphasise on the performance of the government in the area of pensions.

And now that the issue of minimum wage is becoming indeterminable, the APC-led government has nothing except in the area of pension to show that it is pro-workers.

The governors of the 36 states had resolved that they could only pay N22,500 minimum wage but the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had kicked against this. The workers staged sensitization rally across the country a few days ago as they prepare to go on strike on November 6.


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