Barrister Ayo Olalere
SIR: It is now over one year since President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new minimum wage of N30,000 into law.
Talks on the consequential adjustment on the salaries of all categories of the workers have also been concluded across the 36 states of the federation.
Most states if not all, have also started paying the new minimum wage and its consequential adjustments to their workers.
It is, however disappointing that nothing has been heard about the consequential adjustment of the monthly pensions of retirees particularly those on the Defined Benefits Scheme (formerly, pay-as-you-go scheme) now managed by the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) at the federal government level.
The 1999 Constitution is very clear and unambiguous on the issue of pensions. Section 173 makes provision for the protection of pension rights.
Sub-Section 3 says: ‘Pension shall be reviewed every five years or together with any Federal Civil Service salary review, whichever is earlier’.
The same provision for pensioners at state government levels is contained in section 210(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The ordinary interpretation of this Sub-Section 3 is that pension must be reviewed every five years whether or not there is any Federal Civil Service Salary review.
If the salary review comes within and before the expiration of five years, pension must also be reviewed.
The current monthly pensions being paid to federal government retirees, under the purview of PTAD, was due for review before the negotiation for the New Minimum Wage started but this was not done.
Today there are federal pensioners still earning less than the old minimum wage of N18,000, some as low as N5,000.00 monthly.
Whereas the law now is that nobody, including pensioners, should earn less than the new minimum wage of N30,000 per month.
The pioneer executive secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) Barrister Sharon Ikeazor did a yeoman’s job by undertaking a nationwide verification of federal government pensioners including states pensioners with federal government shares.
The federal government now has a comprehensive database of all those receiving pensions from it, a feat that had never been achieved before now.
The PTAD did excellently well that the president directed them to undertake the verification of retirees of the federal parastatals and agencies.
These categories of pensioners have now been captured in the database thereby ending their years of suffering.
It is however, sad to say that since the elevation of Barrister Sharon Ikeazor to the federal cabinet as Minister of State (Environment), the PTAD seems to have gone into a deep sleep.
Monthly pensions to our senior citizens, of which I am one, are never credited to their accounts until two or three days after the month has ended.
Arrears are still being owed from previous pension reviews and no action has been initiated on the consequential adjustment of monthly pensions over one year after the new minimum wage of N30,000 became a law.
This is a clarion call on the current executive secretary, her management team and staff of PTAD to rise up, pay outstanding arrears, initiate action to effect the consequential adjustment arising from the new minimum wage of N30,000 on the monthly pensions of government retirees and pay the accumulated arrears effective April 18, 2019 when it became a law.
- Barrister Ayo Olalere, Ibadan.