25 September 2014, Abuja – Retirees of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, have a sent “Save Our Soul’’ message to President Goodluck Jonathan over unpaid pension and other benefits, seeking for his immediate intervention to save them from untold hardship and untimely death.
For the past two weeks, the pensioners have been protesting across the country especially in Abuja, Lagos, Kwara states among others over unpaid pension arrears and other entitlements.
In the recent protest in Lagos, they decried non-payment of their accumulated pension benefits and called on President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately intervene in their plight by directing relevant ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, the Accountant General of the Federation, and National Electricity Liability Management Company, NELMCO, to pay up their entitlements.
They displayed placards with inscriptions such as “Finance Minister, where is our money? “Agbogun and NELMCO pay PHCN pensioners our entitlements,’’ “who is holding our pension? NELMCO or ..? “President Jonathan, please order the release of our pensions, arrears, hamonisation, monetisation, and electricity rebate, pensioners are dying. Sam Agbogun, release our money.’’
Speaking, Chairman of the pensioners in Alimosho, Mr. Lawrence Aremo, lamented that they were not owed for four months (May to August) pensions, but other outstanding benefits spanning over several years.
“Some of these entitlements are: gratuities, Electricity Rebate Arrears since 2009, and especially since NELMCO under Dr Sam Agbogun took over payment of our pensions in August 2012. Others are harmonisation and monetisation arrears, 133 per cent and the 33 per cent increase which was granted since 2013 to all federal pensioners amongst others,“ he said.
He lamented that the pensioners were paid haphazardly and usually delayed.
Aremo said several meetings were held between the representatives of the retirees with the NELMCO management, arguing that all the verbal promises to them had not been fulfilled.
Mr Rotimi Fashina, another retiree, said some of them were forced to retire early but that their gratuities and other entitlements were still being withheld.
He said that a retiree, who was in the news recently, hung himself out of hunger and frustration, adding that the retirees could not meet family obligations.
“Some of us were injured in service, we have a blind man who was forced to retire yet is being owed several months of pension,’’ he said.
He said that the retirees were sure that the President was not given the right information about the pensioners and issued a “Save Our Soul’’ message for quick action.
In the same vein, the aggrieved pensioners in Ilorin, Kwara state, also protested the non-payment of their harmonisation, monitisation and gratuity entitlements said to amount to N25 billion nationwide.
They equally alleged that they were owed their monthly pensions for many months and demanded immediate payment of the arrears.
The pensioners who protested at the office of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company at Challenge Office, in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital carried placards with diffferent inscriptions.
The placards deplored their indebtedness, drew attention to their plight, and called on the relevant authorities to effect the payment of their entitlements with immediate effect.