Posted by News Express | 24 May 2021 | 309 times
By BERTRAM NWANNEKANMA
It was 30 years of endless wait for staff of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) who were retrenched by the authority on June 10, 1991.
Before their disengagements, they worked in various ports and were promised prompt payment of their gratuities and entitlements.
However, 30 years after, no fewer than 400 of the 2,750 employees were reported to have passed on, waiting to get their gratuities.
Others are made to hold the short end of the stick with their gratuities and entitlements still elusive.
The payment of the terminal benefits was not handled with dispatch to the extent that till date, some of the workers are yet to collect their full entitlements. Bureaucratic bottlenecks have also hindered many of them from getting their entitlements.
The latest of the dead was Mr. Godwin Amromare, who died last year at the age of 65 while many others are bedridden on account of inability to buy drugs and access good medical care.
Media Chairman and spokesman for the retirees, Sylva Okoro, said they were left to die one by one. Okoro, who has been bedridden for about one year due to lack of finance to receive medical treatment, wondered why the NPA management was treating them with contempt after years of meritorious service.
The 1991 retirees, he added, have the constitutional rights to demand their rights as long as NPA refuses to settle them. Okoro added that the retirees had, through their lawyer, Simmons Cooper Partners, wrote a letter to the suspended Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, for intervention without any reprieve.
In the letter dated December 3, 2020 and signed by Dapo Akinosun and Victoria Alonge, the retirees asked the suspended boss to immediately pay their full pension and other benefits.
But with the suspension of Usman, he said the retirees were at a crossroads. He said: “The suspended managing director was alleged of carrying government money for her personal use instead of using it to pay their pensions, gratuities and redundancy benefits for 1991. NPA has put us in untold hardship for 30yrs.
“The majority of us passed on during this agitation as a result of lack of financial resources to adequately manage our peculiar health condition and our families,” he added.
Okoro, however, urged the acting MD, Mr. Mohammad Koko, to facilitate the immediate payment of the pensions, gratuities and redundant benefits without further delay. (The Guardian)
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