President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration had put a stop to dehumanisation of Federal Government’s pensioners by ensuring prompt payment of their entitlements and clearing the backlog of arrears.
President Buhari stated this when he received a delegation of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners led by its Acting President, Comrade Musa Dallatu, at the State House, Abuja, on Friday.
The president declared that the welfare of pensioners had remained a priority for his administration since May 2015.
According to him, the retirees deserve timely payment of their entitlements, recognition and respect for their work and dedication to the country during their active working years.
‘‘In recent times pensioners were ignored, neglected and even persecuted.
“We have put a stop to that. As you yourselves have confirmed today, we have begun regular payment of monthly pensions and payment of backlog of arrears.
‘‘The Federal Government released N45 billion accrued rights for the contributory pension scheme and N22.4 billion to start payment of ex-Nigeria Airways pensioners,’’ he said.
President Buhari told the pensioners that the federal government also bailed out states by releasing Paris Club refunds to them to enable them to clear salary and pension arrears.
He said he also authorised the schemes for the restoration of pensions for retirees of Niger Delta Steel Company, NITEL/MTEL as well as Biafra Police/Army.
While reviewing the actions taken so far by the administration in the area of pension, the president said the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) had saved N4.9 trillion per annum.
President Buhari said this was as a result of the introduction of payroll clean-up under the Civil Service verification exercise.
He added that the directorate which supervised the payment of pension arrears to over 50,000 verified civil service pensioners, also oversaw the payment of N917.6 million to 432 war retirees.
According to him, the PTAD completed full payment of N5.8 billion to police retirees in August 2018 while three months later, N13.7 billion was paid to parastatal retirees and N18 billion to civil service pensioners.
‘‘These few examples testify to government’s positive impact on pensioners’ lives. In addition, we achieved huge savings in budgetary provisions through the elimination of ghost and duplicated details.
‘‘We have restored qualified pensioners arbitrarily removed from the payroll, thus bringing succour and hope to the senior citizens and improving the confidence of the entire county in government and its policies,’’ he said.
On the requests by the pensioners, the president promised to do all within his powers to address them, subject to availability of funds.
The leader of the delegation had called for the implementation of the National Policy on Pension Parity and the National Policy on Social Security on Health and Other Related Matters of the Elderly.
Dallatu, had also sought presidential intervention on the five per cent counterpart funding for the payment of Local Government pensioners and retired primary school teachers which was arbitrarily stopped in 2010.
He also appealed for the payment of outstanding pension arrears, gratuities and death benefits that had accrued over the years, among others.
While commending Buhari on the regular payment of pensions, Dallatu said: ‘‘we are bold to say without fear or favour that you have made our lives better than you met them.
‘‘It is an incontestable fact that since the advent of this government under your able leadership, payment of monthly pensions has been more regular than ever.
“In fact, if the truth must be told, Mr President Sir, we have never had it so good.’’