Thursday, November 23, 2017

Nigerian Pensioners and the Irresponsible Government

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Why have the Nigerian Government refused to pay Workers and Pensioners on time? “Ole! Ole! (thief, thief), pay us our salary”, those were the exact words protesters branded the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, as they pelted him with stones and sachet water in a mosque where he had gone to pray on Sallah day; however it was alleged that protesters actually thought the Senate leader, was the governor of Kwara State, who is yet to pay workers and pensioners in the State their salaries.

Their action is uncalled for, most of us exclaimed when we saw the headlines, but to be fair to these workers and retirees, who have given their all-in-all in serving both the Federal and State government’s, I truly believe, “every worker deserves his wage” as at when due.

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I was strolling down with a female friend on Tuesday, a day before the Sallah celebration. I had earlier in the day, admonished her of her dressing, however, on getting to the bus stop, an elderly woman approached the young lady walking with me and asked to have a word with her. She got scared and she asked me, “what do you think she wants to tell me?” I immediately answered, “your dressing”, but encouraged her to go answer the lady, but she insisted I go with her. On approaching the lady, she explained to us, that she was not a begger but a pensioner, who is stranded, with nothing to eat at home. She was well dressed, and her English was so polished, I had to believe her. My heart sank, because I know what our barbaric government has turned civil servants into. I dipped my hand into my pocket and offered her the little I could. I couldn’t help but wonder, how many civil servants, have been levelled to this sorry condition by greedy men and women at the helm of affairs in Nigeria.

I thought of my parents, who are both pensioners and I thanked God for them, because my siblings and I provide for them and they do not have to beg before they eat. But what about those who do not have children to care for them, or those who have been left behind by either their partner’s or children, as a result of separation or death.

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Who do we blame?
With many jobless graduates roaming the streets even to their late 30s these days and still collecting stipends from their parents, as a means of survival. The Nigerian civil servant can hardly cater for his or her family, but worst still is the condition of the pensioner, who knows not when his or her pension will be paid.

After my Dad retired from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, his pension was delayed for reasons unknown to us. I remember escorting him several times for the verification exercise, only for him to wait for years before getting paid. But what I remember most is that some officials asked him for bribe, to facilitate the release of My Dad’s pension. He had to pay 20,000 Naira several times to different personnel’s at the pension office, all in the name of helping him force the release of his pay, from the pension headquarters in Abuja. Some even went as far as calling him on phone, trying to negotiate his pension with him. This is but one person’s experience. There are other cases, where pensioners, have been coned into sharing their pay or even some dying, while trying to complete the tedious verification process.

Must it continue like this?
Nigeria has been plagued by corruption and poverty in recent times, because those who are suppose to foresee the release of workers’ pay in-time, are either lukewarm or nonchalant about the plight of retirees, while the Government on its own part, do little or nothing to monitor the system, because many officials, are too eager to pocket as much money as possible. Little wonder why a friend once said, that with time, the poor, will forcefully take what they can from the rich.

The bible preaches sternly against owing workers, who have completed their job. It is a grievious sin to hold unto another man’s sweat. With rumours of top government officials depositing workers pay in their personal bank accounts, so as to yield more interest’s for them, before they go ahead with the release of payment’s to the rightful owners, the civil servants, some times even as late as the middle of the next month.

Over the year, the system as continued to deterioriate, we can therefore, not continue to sit back and allow those who have worked their lives, time and strength out, making government agencies function properly, lack the necessity’s of life.

If the Government does not want to listen, we will keep writing, until they start treating the Nigerian Civil Servants and retirees, with a little more respect.

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