Pensioners set to ambush Bindow in 2019


Pension is not a right, says government

The Adamawa State governor, Senator Muhammadu Umaru Jibrilla Bindow of the All Progressives Congress (APC), may face two critical hurdles over his second term ambition, as the pensioners in the state are determined to work against him in 2019, if he fails to pay their N20 billion pensions and gratuity arrears.

This is coming on the heels of the initial threat to him by former governor, Murtala Nyako and the ‘Abuja Group’- aggrieved members of the legacy parties, led by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal.

The main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is also not resting on its oars to oust Bindow come 2019. The pensioners are up in arms against the governor asking him to settle the pension arrears otherwise they would mobilize against him in 2019.

While addressing the media last week, a retired permanent secretary, Alhaji Mustapha Galadima vowed that pensioners would pay the administration with the same coin it is paying them.

He accused the administration of not only being inhuman on issues concerning pensioners, but also treating retired civil servants in the state with contempt. However, the chief of staff to the governor, Alhaji Abdullraman Abba Jimeta dismissed the threat, saying that retirement benefits are privileges and not rights of pensioners.

According to him, “Government has the right to skip some of the retired benefits and pay those that are more important to the administration.” While the chief of staff insisted there is no need joining issues with Galadima, he contended: “Jimeta has only demonstrated his ignorance about civil service rules. All pensioners’ benefits are stipulated in the 1999 Constitution as amended in 2011.

“Jimeta has never been a career civil servant, he only worked briefly in the erstwhile General Ibrahim Babangida’s Mass Mobilization for Self Reliance, Social Justice, and Economic Recovery (MAMSER) and resigned. I doubt his depth of knowledge of civil service rules.”

But the State’s chairman of the pensioners union, Mr. Samson Almuru, said since the state was created past and present governments have not complied with the new law for increments of pensioners’ allowances.

According to him, “You can imagine that some of the retired permanent secretaries in Adamawa are still collecting N7, 000 as pension. A retired Permanent Secretary and former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Abubakar Geire, who is now ill is still collecting N7, 000 monthly and for several months he has not been paid.”

He added that the benefits of some permanent secretaries and the executive chairman of the state Board of Internal Revenue, who died in active service about seven years ago, are yet to be remitted to their next of kin; “this government is aware but could not take appropriate action.

“Sadly too, we have over 40 permanent secretaries, state and local government auditors general and clerk to the State Assembly, who retired from service between 2009 and 2016 and are still waiting to be paid their entitlements.”

Almuru alleged that pensioners in Adamawa were excluded from the 2016 bail out funds of Federal Government and the recent Paris Club refunds, despite the fact that the state got over N10 billion from the two allocations.”

Said he: “Adamawa collected the bail out and the Paris Club funds but up till now our members are yet to benefit from the two allocations. We were told that the governor approved only N1billion naira for both state and local government pensioners.”

He lamented that payment of gratuity and pension in Adamawa has become a thorn in the flesh of the present government, saying: “In the time past payments have been regular and had covered a wide ground. We are not against the infrastructure the government is building but that should not be used as excuse to the detriment of retired civil servants.”

He wondered whether the roads are meant for carrying the dead bodies or are meant for the living. He however urged the governor to check some of his aides over their unguarded comments.

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