Bauchi workers, pensioners demonstrate over _5.3 billion retirees’ benefits

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FromMOHAMMED KAWU, Bauchi
Bauchi state chapters of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Trade Unions and the Nigeria labour Congress have at their 2012 Pension celebration rally called on the state government to hasten the payment of the entitlements of retired officers worth 5.3 billion naira under the state and local government services in the state.
The groups that trouped to the Government House, Bauchi Tuesday, to show concern on the indebted entitlements yet to be settled by government for both state and local governments said that between the years, 2010 to 2012, about 3,000 retirees left the service and are yet to receive their benefits.
They argued that all efforts for the state government to settle the benefits of the retired officers have proved abortive, adding that only 1.3 per cent of the retirees have been able to get their benefits.
Bauchi state Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Mallam Muhammadu Inuwa Ahmed revealed that retirees under the local government are owed about 3 million naira, while, those under the state government services are owing 2.3 billion naira as at October 2012.
They said it has become imperative to inform the government on the debt being owed by pensioners by the state government so that action  would be taken to ensure the payment of the huge gratuities and pension arrears.
Members of the pensioners with placards reads;  ”let government pay our gratuities before we die”, “ I have 10 children, no food to eat, pay my pension”, “we are dying, without payments of our gratuities”, “I live in darkness because there is no money to settle electricity bills”.
The Bauchi state chairman of the Nigerian labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Hashimu Muhammed Gital said their intervention was in solidarity with the Nigerian union of pensioners, Bauchi state council on its national pensioners’ day celebration and to inform the government of their plight.
He recalled, “We are aware that this humane government in April this year constitute a committee to look into the welfare of pensioners as regards the upward review of the pension rates in Bauchi state”.
“We are thankful that the committee submitted its report to government in June 2012 this year but no action has been taken to implement the recommendations of the committee’s”, Gital said.
According to him, the committee among other things recommended that a policy be put in place for an upward review of the monthly rates after every 5years as provided in the Nigerian Constitution or take the option of handing the review together with civil service salary review, saying that the upward review of pension rates is to take effect by 1st January, 2012.
Hashimu further recalled that Bauchi state House of Assembly was asked to hasten the passage of the pension Bill into law in order to ensure that the state adopts/operates either Pension Fund Trustees or defined contributory pension scheme for pensions which contributions  account for 10 percent of the employees, as is obtainable in other states.
He therefore urged the government that the implementation of the committees’ recommendations be fast-tracked since their payments of areas to workers has proven to be a difficult task if not near impossibility for successive governments in the state.
Gital therefore requested for increased funding by the state government for the settlement of gratuities and other retirement benefits to retired workers.
Responding, the Chief of Staff, Government House, Bauchi, Alhaji Yusuf Musa Gumli, on behalf of the state government reminded the labour and the pensioners of the contributions of the government towards improving the lot of its work force through the provision of housing and vehicle loans to improve their welfare.
Gumli recalled that the Yuguda-led administration at its inception crippled the obnoxious Bauchi formula that affected the state workers over the years.
He therefore solicited their cooperation, and pledged to convey their message to the government, assuring that their grievances will be addressed by early next year when the 2013 budget becomes operational.

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