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NNSL pensioners to PTAD: We’re dying, incapacitated daily

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By Victor Ahiuma-Young

IT was a pitiable sight when a cross section of pensioners and former workers of the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line, NNSL, gathered in Lagos few days ago to protest worsening conditions of members, claiming colleagues are dying and being incapacitated on daily basis.

*Officials of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, cataloging and digitizing pensioners’ files inherited from an old pension office in Lagos.

The former workers who used the protest to plead with the Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, to pay the N3 billion arrears owed its members since 2008, insisted payment of the money would save them from untimely death and also enable them attend to their needs, especially medical.

Speaking, President of Pension Welfare Association of NNSL, Mr. Patrick Azu, demanded for the payment of their pension arrears and reinstatement of members in the Federal Government Pension payroll.

According to him, its members had not received any payment after the payment of five years arrears in 2008, saying: “Out of about 1000 that were abruptly retired from the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line Ltd., NNSL, only 800 of us are still alive. Some of our members died just because they did not have money to go for basic medical checkup at the hospitals. Some cannot even attend this meeting due to financial and health challenges.

NNSL pensioners fault PTAD on N3bn arrears

“We have made several trips to Abuja, tasking our members out of nothing, to submit all our members’ files to PTAD. We just want PTAD to come for the verification of our members. Once the verification is done, we will be hopeful that within two weeks, we will be paid the arrears.”

Azu contended that the appeal became necessary to let Nigerians know that “our members are dying and being incapacitated daily due to hardship and no money.”

He said some of the members were young when they were retired abruptly and that holding on to what was due to them up to this moment amounted to injustice.

One of the members, 84-year-old Alhaji Shita Sanni, said it was only God that had kept him all these years without money to look after himself, lamenting: “I cannot describe how l feel about the non-payment of our pension arrears. When l think of it, I shed tears. I am here joining hands with my fellow pensioners begging PTAD to pay the arrears on time so that at least, l will eat out of the fruit of my labour.”

Mr Matthew Anamanya, a 76-year-old pensioner, said he just managed to come to the protest ground to join his colleagues, saying: “I am not 100 per cent okay as l am still on medication. I have an appointment at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital on Jan. 28 for a laboratory test after which l will see the doctor. To get money for the treatment, l have to go round begging for money, but if l have my pension, l can comfortably treat myself.

“The way PTAD has treated us is not good and I hope after this protest, they will pay us our arrears. All of us here served our country during our youthful years, but we are now suffering when we need money most to take care of basic needs.”

Anamanya argued that all they were asking for was the payment of their arrears and for them to start receiving monthly pensions due to them as Federal Government staff.

Mr Solomon Nyorere, the Chairman of the Pensioners Protest Committee, informed that the association had submitted all the requirements of its members to PTAD.

According to him: “We are expecting them to tell us the date they will come for verification and capture all our members’ biometrics. This will give us the assurance that few weeks after the verification exercise, our arrears will be paid.”

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