Ex-military officers lambast FG, set for protest over 30 months unpaid pension arrears

Posted by News Express | 14 January 2015 | 3,672 times

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Retired personnel of the Nigerian military have given notice of a planned peaceful protest during the January 15 Armed Forces Remembrance Day to attract attention to their plight over non-payment of their pension arrears by the Federal Government.

In a statement issued yesterday by the leadership of the Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association and jointly signed by the President, Colonel P.A. Zubair, Colonel H.I. Ikoghode and Master Warrant Officers (MWOs) U. Samuel and A. Agbas, the retired officers said:

“The military pensioners have continued to face untold hardship as a result of government refusal to pay our outstanding pension arrears since July 2010 to date.

“It is the height of hypocrisy to vote huge sums of money for the fallen heroes every year while the living ones are forgotten and dying of hunger. The living heroes are ready to stage a nationwide protest to show the world our plight. No going back on our 53.37% pension arrears based on the correct data.”

The retired military men had attempted to march to the Presidential Villa last September, but sheathed their sword following the timely intervention of the then Minister of State for Defence, Ambassador Musiliu Obanikoro, and the Chief of Staff to the President, retired Brig.-Gen. Oladehinde Arogbofa, who assured them that their grievances was being considered.

While insisting that it was wrong on the side of government to continue to deceive them with fake promises of paying their entitlements and the accrued arrears, the ex-servicemen maintained that it is wrong for the government to continue to celebrate fallen heroes while the living are left to wallow in untold hardship and appeal for public support in the pursuit of their rights.

According to the statement, “The members of the Ex-Service Men Welfare Association hereby wish to request for your kind support to bring to the notice of the general public of the plight of the Armed Forces pensioners.

“The military pensioners have continued to face untold hardship as a result of government refusal to pay our outstanding pension arrears since July 2010 to date.

“However, we have been subjected to all forms of deceit from the government and its various organs responsible for the payment of the pension arrears in the annual budget that has not seen the light of the day…

“We have legally earned the money and refusing to pay us or tampering with it is totally unacceptable.”

The ex-servicemen expressed dissatisfaction over the manner with which the Ministry of Finance decided on, without consultations, to reverse to the old 33 per cent increment but still refused to pay them, even though those that did not serve the country as they did have been given compensation and preferential treatment.

“Even the so called 53.37 per cent that was illegally being reduced to 33 percent was based on wrong data, which could be corrected with the implementation of the 2007 pension review . . . the pardoned ex-Biafra soldiers have been paid their pension arrears and the Niger Delta militants are being paid their allowances as at when due. Only the military pensioners who served the country officially have been left out,” they stated.

•Adapted from a Guardian report. Photo courtesy of Vanguard.

Source: News Express

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