THE MINT PENSIONERS – WHAT IS THEIR HOPE

 

How long would it take for a responsible government to value the lives of its citizens? Can an organization continue to deprive citizens of their rights? How long do the people need to suffer in silence under the watch of a sane government? What is the value of human life in Nigeria?

We have watched with disdain how a generation that worked with integrity, ethics, zeal and patriotism; sacrificing for the future of their children with a hope for a comfortable retirement have been left to fend for themselves in their frailty.

An example is the gloomy story of Pensioners of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc where nearly a thousand pensioners who were forcefully retired by the organization have been abandoned to their fate without pension or gratuity. Despite several pleas, demands and even judicial intervention nothing has been done to placate the Pensioners. It appears that with the protracted litigation of the case via court adjournments and appeals, the courts’ excessive focus on legal technicalities, the constant redefinition of judicial jurisdiction, and the entire back and forth process of sojourning the lengths and breadth of the Nigerian judiciary system, obtaining a decision is farfetched, rendering these aging men and women helpless, little wonder there is a saying “The LAW is an ASS and anyone can ride on it”

Established in 1963 as a limited liability company, the Mint is the Nigerian banknote printer with headquarters in Abuja and Lagos, where printing takes place simultaneously. The Federal Government owns majority shares of 97.06% through Central Bank of Nigeria (77%) and Bureau of Public Enterprise (20.06%) while De La Rue of U.K controls a paltry 2.94%. With this caliber of shareholders and profit of the organization it was expected that over the years active steps would have been taken to resolve the issue.

Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company is currently spitting in the faces of our fathers, mothers, uncles, aunties, brother and sisters. Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company is ridiculing the labors of our heroes, the service of our father land. Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company cannot sit back and ply the blame game while our people suffer. We say NO! Take responsibility and resolve this matter now.

It baffles our minds as one wonders whether the pensioners are being penalized for years of hard work, services and commitment. In a recent TVC interview, the retirees claimed to have been receiving between one to three thousand naira monthly as their pension. Whatever pension plan the NSPM has that allows such peanuts as gratuity for our elderly citizens is unconscionable and an insult to these men and women who worked for decades for the federal government of Nigeria.

Is our government, state and private sector sending a message to the youths to gather as much as possible by any means since there is no future plan for their survival? Pensioners are dying every day in Nigeria, as federal government, state governments and private sector fail to pay retirees their gratuities and pensions as at when due. According to analysts, the Federal Government’s involvement in the operations of the Mint has remained its greatest albatross.
It is painful that the Federal Government through PenCOM, has not settled the gratuities and pensions of all retired federal staff since January 2016, and this is in spite of the fact that they are contributors to the pension scheme introduced by the government in 2004. This level of injustice and hardship towards senior citizens is intolerable.
While some of their peers have fallen ill and died off without reaping the benefits of their struggle. This is nothing short of a despicable attitude being meted out on these old and sickly individuals by those at the helm of management of the organization they once served so diligently.

If the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Plc is left justified with this dreadful act, then Nigeria is a big fraud and this explains why the world thinks politicians, political office holders, technocrats and their cronies see the country as a big cow available for milking by those who have its custody, while a majority of Nigerians watch helplessly from a distance.

Kayode Sijuade is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja

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