By Aaron Ossai
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has urged the executive to ensure that all backlog of pension payments are made promptly, adding that no excuse will be accepted for failure to do so.
Dogara gave this charge after the minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and that of Budget and Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, briefed the House on efforts made so far to offset arrears owed to Nigerian pensioners.
The Speaker said he was confident of the promise made by President Muhammadu Buhari that issues surrounding non-payment of pensions to retired Federal civil servants will be addressed.
The Speaker recalled that when President Buhari made a promise to provide bailout funds to states for payment of backlog of salaries, he endured that it was done.
He said, “We will not accept any excuse that leaves part of this pension funds hanging. When the President made a commitment that he was going to release money for bailout to States so that they can pay backlog of salaries and pensions, it happened, even though we were in the midst of a very biting recession. Now the President has said this issue of pension must be solved.
“I don’t know where you got the money to bail out the states from, wherever you got the money from that is where we are going to get the money to solve this problem. And for the ministers who are representatives of the president, I believe you won’t make him (Buhari) break his words because his words are cherished. I want to believe this will be the last intervention we will be having with regards to the issue of pensions in this country. That is my charge.
“The message the House will be sending to the President through the Ministers is, when you meet him to brief him about this engagement, just tell him that we have taken his words to the bank and we believe that we will cash it”, he added.
In his remarks, president of National Union of Pensioners (NUP), Dr Abel Afolayan, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, Speaker Dogara and the House of Representatives for listening to their issues and taking action.
He, however, appealed to the executive to speedily pay the 33 percent arrears, preferably within a month, especially as police pensioners were paid for 3 months out of 42 and they cannot protest in or out of service.