By Felix Khanoba
The National Union of Pensioners, Federal Colleges of Education chapter, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on relevant authorities to ensure the speedy release of funds budgeted for payment of its year 2009 outstanding 33 per cent pension increase.
A statement made available to newsmen by the South West Zonal Chairman of the Federal Colleges of Education chapter of the union, Dr. Stephen Fatusin, said members of the body are aware that the Federal Government had made financial provisions for the payment.
The senior citizens said in 2017, more than N55 billion was approved and released to offset the 33 percent arrears but they were not paid.
Fatusin said despite media information quoting the House of Representatives committee on pension as saying that such amount of money has been approved, the Pension Transition Adminstrative Directorate (PTAD) denied the claim.
While alleging a possible connivance in some government quarters to delay or prevent the payment, the pensioners called on the president to wade into the issue to prevent them from dying in penury.
On the $300 million recovered Abacha loot, Fatusin appealed to the president to consider it more morally sound to settle the nine-year old debt owed to pensioners first since they also fall into the category of the poorest in the nation.
He said several of them are sick and require urgent medical attention to avoid needless trauma or even death.
The chairman said not less than 15 pensioners in Ondo, 12 in FCE, Abeokuta, 16 in FCE, Akoka, Lagos, 14 in FCE Oyo, 12 in FCE Umunze, 5 in Alvan Ikoku (Oweri), 17 in FCE, Asaba, 11 in FCE, Port Harcourt, 14 in FCE, Obudu, Cross River, 7 in FCE (Technical) Gusau, 13 in FCE Zaria, 12 in FCE (Technical) Bichi (Kano), 8 in FCE Katsina, 13 in ATC, Azare, have needlessly lost their lives in the last one year due to lack of money to foot medical bills.
The pensioners said if the plight of federal pensioners is not prioritised, it will serve as a powerful inducement for serving federal workers to engage inexorably in corrupt practices in anticipation of a hellish life in retirement should they fail to do so while still active in service.
They said for a government who prides itself as one fighting corruption, good and enviable treatment of pensioners is one potent strategy to spontaneously discourage corruption on the job.