Pensioners under the umbrella of the Association of Retired Senior Public Officers of Nigeria (ARFESPON) have appealed to the Federal Government to pay them all outstanding pension benefits.
They are also asking the government to stop the disparity in payment of pension benefits between its members and their serving counterparts.
ARFESPON is made up of retired management level officers from salary grade level 14 to Permanent Secretaries, Comptrollers-General of Customs, Immigration and Prisons and career Ambassadors.
The President of the Lagos State chapter of the association, Olufemi Odewabi, while speaking with reporters in Lagos said government currently owes its members 30-month pension benefits.
According to him, the government is yet to implement the 53.4 per cent pension increase following salary increase it effected for federal public workers in 2010, which by stipulations of the law of the federation should supply to retirement benefits of pensioners.
He said: “The Federal Government is yet to listen to yearnings of retired senior public officers. We have been pleading with government to totally effect the 2010 increase in our pension benefits and to end the era of disparity in the payment of retirement benefits to pensioners.
“The government had during the regime of Goodluck Jonathan effected 53.4 per cent increase in the salaries of public office workers and failed to do same for pensioners. Section 173, sub-section 3 of the Constitution of Nigeria states that pension shall be reviewed every five years or together with any federal civil service salary review, whichever is earlier.”
“When we reacted to government’s non-compliance with the above section of the law regarding the increase it made in the salaries of its workers in 2010, the government set up a committee to review our case. But the committee went contrary to the position of the Constitution on the issue and recommended 33 per cent increase for the pensioners against 53.4 per cent effected on federal workers’ salaries.”
This, according to Odewabi, left the pensioners with a short change of 20.4 percent. He lamented that rather than pay the 33 per cent increase recommended by the committee in full, government has been paying in installments. He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to clear the 30 months arrears and pay up the sum total of the 20.4 per cent deducted by the committee.
He noted that his members were right in their demand for payment of the 20.4 percent deductions because all the reasons given by the committee for the deductions were wrong, adding that the tax percentage deducted by the committee was against Section 173, sub-section 4 of the Constitution of Nigeria, which states that pensioners in respect of service in the public service of the federation shall not be taxed.
He said the per cent deducted for contributory pension scheme was wrong because all his members are under the Defined Benefit old scheme and have nothing to do with Contributory Scheme.
“The Federal Housing Scheme, for which the committee deducted 2.5 per cent should not be because his members are no longer under the housing scheme. The deductions are illegal and I urge President Buhari to listen to our cries and pay both the outstanding 30 months and the 20.4 per cent deductions. We also want the President to intervene in the harmonisation of disparity existing in payments between serving and retired public officers.”
UK Government Has Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
The United Kingdom on Wednesday Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
British government on Wednesday became the first country to approve Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use, according to the UK government.
The vaccine will be rolled out from next week and the first dose could be administered as early as December 7th, stated people familiar with the matter.
Last week, the UK government announced it had ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 and appointed Nadhim Zahawi, the current junior business minister, as the minister responsible for the deployment of the vaccines.
British government on Wednesday morning said, “The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use”
“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, revealed that the programme would commence early next week.
“It is very good news,” Hancock said.
Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.
On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.
Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.
“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.
“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.
“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”
Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria
Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.
The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.
However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.
Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.
In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.
The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He added that people are facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
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