Benue Pensioners Protest 25 Months Arrears
From Chris Gaga, Makurdi
Pensioners in Benue State on Wednesday, began indefinite protest to push for the payment of their pension and gratuities.
DAILY ASSET reports that the pensioners carried placards and coffin with inscriptions such as, “Pensioners are not dead people”, “Pensioners will no longer die in silence”, Assembly members wake up from sleep and help pensioners”, etc
Last week, the senior citizens issued notice to the Benue State Government that they will be embarking on indefinite peaceful protest on Wednesday, September 4, 2019.
According to the Chairman of the pensioners, Peter Kyado, they were demanding immediate payment of outstanding pension arrears, both at the state and LGA levels; the payment of the monthly pensions; a monthly release of N1bn for the payment of gratuities till all the outstanding gratuities were settled, among others.
The pensioners, some of who carry mats with them said they “will be sleeping with the Governor in Government House; after all, it is Benue People’s House.”
John Awodi, who retired in 2005 as a Director in the Ministry of Works said he has been owed 19 months in pension and has not received gratuity since his retirement.
“I have children that are going to school. By next week, I have a bill of not less than Two Hundred Thousand Naira as school fees and I have no single kobo. It is not like I don’t work; I worked for my state and am now retired,” Awodi emphasised.
Esther Orshi retired in 2013. Since then, she has received no Kobo in gratuity and has been owed 25 months in pension.
“We are hungry. Suswam (administration) owed us six months and out of those six months, only three months have been paid to us. If you add that to the present situation, we are owed 25 months.
“So, we are going to stay in the Government House; which is the people’s house and tell the authority that we are dying.”
When asked how they are coping, Alhaji Jibrin Gyuse, said by the “grace of God, but that should tell you that many are no more.”
However, the Chairman, Benue State Pension Commission, Terna Ahua, said the Samuel Ortom administration was working to resolve the challenges facing pensioners in the state.
He explained that the problem of pension in the state cannot be solved in one day “even if you are a magician. This problem has been there for a long time.”
According to Ahua, what the Benue State Pension Commission was trying to do was to plan for those who are going to retire in future, and those who have already retired.
NLC Calls Nationwide Strike over Cash Swap Policy
By Ateed Yusuf, Abuja
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero has directed public sector workers in the country to embark on strike beginning from Wednesday next week.
He also directed that affiliate unions constituting the Nigeria Labour Congress should also be on standby for picketing exercises across all branches of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationwide.
The directive followed an earlier ultimatum issued by the Central Working Committee members of the NLC last week criticising the cash swap policy of the Federal Government.
Ajaero said the decision to picket CBN branches became necessary, as the Federal Government and the CBN have not shown any commitment to address the situation.
He lamented that despite the Supreme Court order allowing the old N500 and N1000 notes to circulate with the new notes till December 31 this year, the situation appears to be getting worse as workers cannot access cash to pay fares to work, nor can they buy food for their families.
Briefing reporters yesterday at the headquarters of NLC, the apex Labour union also criticised the pricing irregularities in the petroleum sector, which was also a cause for concern.
“Last week, we gave an ultimatum for the review of the cash crunch bedeviling the country, but we have discovered to our dismay that as at this moment not much effort has been made to ameliorate the situation, the government is still foot dragging on these issues we raised.
“Based on this, we met again this morning to review our position and resolved that by Wednesday next week, all CBN branches will be picketed.
“Workers are directed to stay at home too because people cannot eat, workers can no longer go to the office, we have been pushed to the wall, we have decided to take our destiny in our hands, we have mobilised our workers for this exercise,” Ajaero stated.
Appoint Governing Boards in Aviation Parastatals, NLC Urges FG
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday urged the Federal Government to appoint governing boards in all aviation parastatals to ensure effective service delivery.
The newly-elected NLC President, Joe Ajaero, made the call at a meeting with Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) in Lagos.
He said that the establishment of governing board in the parastatals would help ease the challenges facing the sector.
“One of the ways in solving the challenges facing the aviation sector in Nigeria is the establishment of governing boards across the aviation parastatals.
“Every parastatal needs a governing board to help in taking key decisions that will impact aviation; so, since there ain’t any board across, it is impacting negatively on the sector.
“An interim board isn’t the same thing as having a board because it has been over eight years. So, I don’t understand why a permanent board hasn’t been established.
“This step is critical for the improvement of key factors in the aviation which will translate to rapid improvement in the sector,” he said.
Ajaero reiterated the importance of the country having its own national carrier to boost its image.
He noted that the process of establishing a national carrier should follow due process to ensure its smooth operation.
Ajaero also said that the concession of airports across the country would not be visible without the establishment of governing boards.
“The nation must have a national carrier as this will help the image of the country; but in carrying out the process to establish the carrier, all due process must be followed.
“We can’t keep having foreign airlines operate in our airports. To ensure that we have our own carrier, we must follow the right process to ensure its smooth take off and operation.
“Also, it is important to note that concession of airport must be done with governing boards in aviation parastatals as they are crucial in taking key decisions; anything done other than this is I llegal,” he said.
The NLC president further said that unions in the aviation sector were not illegal, noting that the unions were established to protect the interest and welfare of staff.
He advised aviation unions to merge into one, saying that the emergence of several unions in the sector prevented a united front.
He assured the public that the NLC would perform its duties diligently.
“We assure Nigerians that we will ensure that we serve them to their best interest.
“It isn’t going to be easy because there will be several challenges but we will adopt the best strategy to ensure that we perform our duties well,” Ajaero said.
The General Secretary, ANAP, Saidu Rasaq, commended the NLC on its visit and urged the congress to help facilitate the condition of service for airport workers
NLC, TUC urges Kogi Govt to Subsidise Housing Loan for Workers
From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), Kogi Chapters, have urged Gov. Yahaya Bello led administration to subsidise housing loan for workers in the state.
The state’s NLC and TUC Chairmen, Onuh Edoka and Tijani Ahmed, made the call in separate interviews with with Our Correspondent in Lokoja, Tuesday.
Our Correspondent reports that the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) in collaboration with NLC/TUC/NECA had on Jan.26, inaugurated 100 housing units estate for civil servants in the state.
“If you look round and going by the history of Kogi since its creation, successive administrations have provided housing estate for state workers.
“But for seven years running now, this administration has not been able to provide housing for state’s workers.
“So, the organised labour unions want the state government to cash in on this opportunity to acquire the FMBN housing scheme and give it to workers.
“The government should acquire the housing estate and allocate it to the interested civil servants in the state,” he said.
According to him, the FMBN is meant to provide housing for Nigerian workers, and it is the workers’ contribution that had made the bank to be what it is today.
“So, we don’t expect anything less than 100 per cent of the occupants of this FMBN/NKC/TUC/NECA housing estate to be workers; that is our position,” he said.
The unions also advised that if the state government could not build housing estate for workers as proposed, it should subsidise the price of the FMBN Housing estate for the workers.
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