Adeola Oladele, Ibadan –
Following the current non payment of pensions and owing of pension arrears by some states as well as mismanagement of the funds by some officials charged with its administration, the National Vice President for National Union of Pensioners NUP (South-West), Alhaji Lateef Adegoke has revealed that the union is pushing life imprisonment for pension fund thieves.
Alhaji Adegoke made the disclosure on Sunday in Ibadan, Oyo State capital while speaking with WP on the plight of pensioners in the state and across the country in general.
According to him, NUP believes that life imprisonment would deter the would be thieves who are fond of embezzling pension fund put in their care, adding that the creation of Ministry of Pension would alleviate the current sufferings of pensioners, some of who, he declared, had died due to financial challenges occasioned by nonpayment of their pensions or late payment of their pensions.
The NUP leader explained that the new law and ministry being advocated by the pensioners, should be made up of honest Nigerians who have the fear of God and who are ready to comply with President Muhammadu Buhari’s non tolerance for corruption.
His words: ” The national executive of NUP, in our congratulatory letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, enumerated some suggestions to him on how to stop the current hardships being faced by pensioners across the country. Among our suggestions is the call for creation of Federal Ministry of Pension Affairs. The ministry should be made up of honest officials who share from the no corruption principle of President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime .The ministry should also be set up in conjunction with the National Union of Pensioners.
“The union leader acknowledged efforts made by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo ‘s regime in reducing pensioners’ hardships, culminating to the establishment of such bodies as PENCOM, maintaining however that some government officials still abused the good intentions of the regime to subject pensioners to hardships and sufferings.
The NUP leader consequently advocated life imprisonment for anybody who embezzled or mismanaged pension fund, stressing such legislation would deter those who are in the habit of mismanaging pensions and subjecting pensioners to untold hardships and untimely death.
Alhaji Adegoke who was a two term NUP Oyo State chairman, particularly bemoaned the current situation in Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo States where pensioners are being owned between three and eight months pension arrears, pleading with the affected governments to pay up the pensions and save the pensioners from unnecessary humiliation, sufferings and untimely deaths.
His words” I am using this period of Muslim Ramadan fast to plead with the states owing pensioners, particularly,Oyo (4 months), Osun(8 months), Ekiti(3 months) and Ondo (3 months), to please settle the arrears of the pension. The pension, should not, in the first instance, be allowed to fall into arrears. It is an act of cruelty to subject our senior citizens to nonpayment of their pensions on time,” he noted.