Epidemic Threatens Pension Exercise As Kalu Calls for Restructuring of Scheme

  By Austin Ogwuda and Vincent Ujumadu, Vanguard

September 15, 2003

An outbreak of epidemic is imminent in Asaba, capital of Delta State as hundreds of military pensioners who had reported at Oshimili South Local Government arcade, venue of screening and payment of their pension, have turned the centre into a faeces dump.

But the Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has called for total restructuring of the country's pension system in order to overcome the problem being experienced by retired civil and public servants.

Speaking during a breakfast meeting with media practitioners in Abia State, weekend, Kalu recalled how he offered a panacea on how to overcome the problem of payment of pension, regretting that labour leaders misunderstood his intention and called him names.

His words: "When I assumed office in 1999, I had suggested that the best way out of the problem was to adopt workable contributory pension scheme. I had called labour leaders for a meeting and suggested to them to contribute 10-15 per cent of their salaries and government would get enough money and invest it to yield more for payment of pension. From my little experience then, I had predicted that no government could be able to pay pension in future, but they refused and some of them even walked out on me."

The governor, however, said he sympathised with the elderly pensioners who cannot feed because of the inability of government to pay pension, adding: "If we had been contributing part of our earnings towards pension and investing same, those retiring in future would never lack gratuity and pension every month. Any president or governor who says that Nigeria will be able to sustain the present day pension and gratuity system is lying to Nigerians."

The retired military pensioners who are of Delta State origin were directed to report at the said arcade for screening and subsequent collection of their pension. Sunday Vanguard investigation showed that the officers in charge of the exercise who arrived from Abuja had categorised the pensions in order of local government areas. However, those who travelled from far away local government areas in the state converted the arcade into a temporary abode as some of them complained that they did not even have money to travel back home.


Copyright 2002 Global Action on Aging
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