- Federal Retirees Lament 14 Months Unpaid Pension
Scores of pensioners, who retired from Federal Government’s agencies, stormed the state secretariat of the Ogun State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Oke Ilewo, Abeokuta, on Tuesday, lamenting the non-payment of their gratuities and pensions for 14 months.
The pensioners, who said they retired in November 2015, and were under the contributory pension scheme, lamented that since their retirement, they had neither been paid their gratuities nor their pensions.
They said having served the nation diligently for 35 years, they were left to languish in penury.
They displayed placards with different inscriptions, including, ‘It is our money, give it to us,’ ‘This is our savings, why punishing us,’ and ‘Delayed entitlements breed corruption.’
The protesters were made up of pensioners who retired from the Nigeria Television Authority, the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, the Federal University of Agriculture and the Federal Medical Centre, all in Abeokuta.
The interim National President, NTA Contributory Pensioners Association of Nigeria, Mr. Kayode Da-Silva, said the experience of the pensioners were contrary to the intent and purpose of the contributory pension scheme, and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to come to their rescue by releasing their entitlements to them.
He said, “With mixed feelings of neglect and regret, we wish to let President Muhammadu Buhari know the harrowing experience of the senior citizens of this nation.
“Many of us here, who had served the nation diligently and meritoriously in the federal civil service for 35 years, are now languishing in penury because of non-payment of gratuity and pension since our retirement in November 2015, more than 14 months ago.”
Da-Silva noted that the rule guiding the contributory pension scheme stipulated that they get their payment within three months after their retirement.
He added that neither the Federal Government nor the National Pension Commission had given any credible and satisfactory reason for the protracted delay in the payment.
Da-silva further said many of the pensioners, who suffered from old age related ailments, could not take care of their health as drugs for such ailments were expensive.
He said, “Only God knows how many of the pensioners have died on account of this undue and undeserved delay. A number of us suffer from age related ailments and must bé on drugs daily.
“Such drugs are expensive and how do we take care of our health when our gratuities and pensions are not paid? At home front, there is tension because of the inability to discharge domestic responsibilities.”
The pensioners thus called on President Buhari to declare a state of emergency on the plight of the Federal Government pensioners and “order immediate payment of our entitlements.”
The Drop in US Crude Oil Inventories Boosted Oil Prices on Wednesday
Crude oil prices rose on Wednesday following a decline in US crude inventories last week.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) had reported that United States crude oil inventories declined by 5.3 million barrels in the week ended January 22, 2021, more than a reduction of 430,000 barrels predicted by a Reuters poll.
The unexpected decline, coupled with slowing new COVID-19 cases in China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil, boosted oil prices on Wednesday.
Brent crude, against which Nigerian crude oil is measured, rose by 41 cents or 0.7 percent to $56.32 per barrel.
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil also gained 56 cents or 1 percent to $53.17 a barrel.
“WTI is slightly firmer on the back of a larger-than-expected draw in US crude inventories reported by the API, which is offset by builds in gasoline and distillates,” said Vandana Hari, oil market analyst at Vanda Insights.
The data, however, showed petrol inventories grew by 3.1 million barrels in the week, more than experts projected.
Similarly, API data revealed that distillate fuel inventories that include diesel and heating oil, jumped by 1.4 million barrels, far higher than the 361,000 barrels decline predicted. However, refinery runs declined by 76,000 barrels per day.
“Market participants are now in ‘wait and see’ mode, wanting to see how lockdowns evolve in the coming weeks and months, and how successful countries are in rolling out Covid-19 vaccines,” ING economics said in a note.
COVID-19 Plunges Nigeria’s Oil Revenue by 41% in the First Nine Months of 2020
Nigeria’s oil revenue declined by 41.44 percent in the first nine months of 2020 to $2.033 billion, according to the latest data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
This represents a decline of 41.44 percent from $3.47 billion filed in the same period of 2019 when there was no COVID-19.
In the September 2020 edition of NNPC’s Monthly Financial and Operations Report (MFOR), revenue from oil and gas rose by 16 percent to $120.49 million in the month of September, a 66 percent or $234.81 million drop from $355.3 million posted in the same month of 2019.
The global lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic plunged Nigeria’s crude oil sales and global demand for the commodity. This was further compounded by Nigeria’s high cost of production compared to Saudi Arabia, Russia and others that were offering discounts to boost sales during one of the most challenging periods in human history.
Experts like Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, President of Nigeria Association of Energy Economics, NAEE, were not surprised with the drop in earnings given the effect of COVID-19 on the world’s economy.
She, however, called for the revamp of the nation’s petroleum sector laws and diversification of the economy away from oil revenue dependence. She said “Covid-19 made 2020 a very hot year and it battered the oil industry internationally and we are not an exception; so we could not have been unaffected”.
She also said the effect of the fall “is definitely a wake-up call; we have to diversify, strengthen our other resources and capabilities”.
Omorogbe, a former NNPC Board Secretary, urged the government and the operators in the sector to look inward and think strategically, stating: “think medium term, think of where they want to be and the government, above all, must think of how best we can utilize our resources, so that we can achieve our objectives once we know and define them.
“It is a clear wake-up call, if not we will just sit here and find that we have become one of the poorest nations in the world”, she noted.
Crude Oil, Other Commodities Closing Price for Monday
Brent crude oil, Nigeria’s crude oil benchmark, gained 47 cents to $55.88 per barrel on Monday, while the US crude oil expanded by 50 cents to $52.77 per barrel.
Gold for February delivery fell $1 to $1,855.20 an ounce. Silver for March delivery fell 7 cents to $25.48 an ounce and March copper was little changed at $3.63 a pound.
The dollar fell to 103.80 Japanese yen from 103.83 yen. The euro fell to $1.2139 from $1.2167.
Wholesale gasoline for February delivery rose 1 cent to $1.56 a gallon. February heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.59 a gallon. February natural gas rose 16 cents to $2.60 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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