Pensioners in Lagos State on Tuesday, stormed the Governor’s Office and Alausa Secretariat of the Lagos State Government, to protest what they termed neglect and poor handling of their pensions.
The senior citizens, who came from different parts of the state in large number, also made a seven-point demand from the government during their protest at Alausa.
They were protesting the effects of the new pension scheme which they called for its review, and added that they had written several letters to the government without any response, hence, the recourse to occupy the state secretariat.
The seven – point demand included: Immediate payment of the outstanding backlogs of bonds from 2020, till date; Declaration of state of emergency on pension matter in the state; Due to the failure of the scheme, a committee should be set up to review the implementation of the scheme to cater for all the inadequacies and Implementation of the findings and recommendations of the report.
Others are: call for the creation of the Office of Special Adviser for Pensions Matters; Activate the governing board to regulate the activities of the LASPEC, as contained in the scheme of service and give pensioners priority in the welfare package such as in health, transportation and palliatives.
They carried different placards some of which read: ‘No Monthly Pension for Level 1 to 6’, ‘’No Monthly Pension for Junior Workers After Retirement’, ‘Suicidal Pension: Average Take Home: Director on 17 N70, 000, Dep. Director on 16 N52, 000, Level 14 N40, 000, Level 08 N16, 000, Level 07 N12, 000, Level 01 to 06 paid off no monthly pay again’, ‘LS Senior Citizens Victim of the Modern Day Slavery’, ‘Deplorable of LS CPS, Urgent Need for Sanwo-Olu’s Intervention’, ‘The Birds that lay the golden eggs, ignored by LASG’, and ‘Rate of Deaths of PENSIONERS is Alarming in Lagos State’, among others.
The Chairman, Contributory Pension Scheme Sector, Lagos State, Mr Omisande Adeyemo, speaking, said that the senior citizens are at the state secretariat to protest the handling of the pensioners’ entitlements and general treatment.
Omisade, who said that the removal of the fuel subsidy is also adding to the retired civil servants’ situation, alleged that the state government is not doing anything to alleviate their sufferings.
“We are here to protest the inhumane treatment being meted to contributory pensioners by the Lagos State Government”, he said.
“Since 2007 when the scheme was introduced, pensioners have been badly treated, some people are earning 5,000, 10,000, 30,000 naira, and our directors earn an average of 70,000 in a month. That is to show that our people are really suffering and there are even some of us who are not even earning 10 kobo.
“Some are not even earning anything, which indirectly means, receive your money and go and die”, he alledged.
“Imagine the present economic situation of this country now, with somebody earning 30,000 naira, how do you expect such a person to survive,” he asked.
“Even the palliative the Federal Government is announcing; we have not heard a word from the Government of Lagos State, on what they are going to do for us about these palliatives”.
Alhaji Dauda Mahmud, the Correspondent Officer, Contributory Pension Scheme Sector and a leader in Ikorodu branch, speaking on the protest, said that the new scheme is not favourable, and that they want a review.
“The new Contributory Pension scheme was introduced to Lagos State workers in 2007, as a result of defects inherent in Defined Benefit Scheme such as a corruption, inadequate funding, bureaucratic bottle neck. These defects give birth to the Contributory Pension Scheme, with the assurance that it is going to be better than the Defined Benefit Scheme. The employees and employers are expected to contribute into the Retirement Saving Account (RSA), and as you exit the service, you collect a percentage of your retirement benefit and the balance goes to your PFA or Annuity for our monthly pensions”, he explained.
“The scheme of service met us while we were in service under the old Scheme, and those left with three years in service were advised against joining the scheme.
“As it is at the moment, our entitlement, which is called bond, is being paid three to five years after retirement. That’s part of the reasons we are protesting.
“We don’t want the scheme to be canceled, rather, we are calling for its review, and we have made a seven – point agenda to the government in this respect”.
While noting that the National Assembly, police and other staff have pulled out of the scheme, Alhaji Mahmud, who retired May 2018 but received his bond in October 2021, which was 40 months after retirement, added that they want the Lagos State Government to treat retirees with care.
“The staff of the National Assembly have backed out of the scheme. These are the people that made the laws. So also are the police”, he said.
“Government is pensioners like paid – off staff, which means that they don’t want anything to do with us. The office incharge of pensions is only catering for those still in service and we that are out of service, and on that basis, we are calling for the creation of the Office of the Special Adviser on Pension Matters.
“We are asking the government to treat us as senior citizens instead of abandoning us. We are demanding the care that we deserve”, Alhaji Mahmud said.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Commissioner for Establishments and Training, Afolabi Ayantayo, has assured protesting state’s pensioners that government was doing everything to meet their requests.
He gave the assurance at Alausa, while addressing the protesting pensioners who stormed the secretariat to demand improvement in the ways that their pension is being handled and their general treatment by the government
The Commissioner stated that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is passionate about the welfare of pensioners.
He stated that pensioners would start seeing the result of the positive steps being taken by the state government, in the coming weeks and pleaded for their understanding in the resolution of the matter.
“We agreed to meet on 17th November, 2023, when Mr. Governor would have returned to get a briefing and proffer solution to the request made by the pensioners”, he said.