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A Cry for Dignity: South-West Pensioners Demand N40,000 Minimum Pension

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IBADAN, Nigeria — Pensioners in the South-West geo-political zone of Nigeria have demanded a N40,000 minimum pension from the region’s governors.

The Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, in the South-West zone made the demand after a meeting in Ibadan on Thursday, August 3, 2023, calling attention to a long-neglected issue that has left many retired individuals in dire financial straits.

The meeting, attended by union executives from Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Lagos, and Ogun states, highlighted the staggering plight of pensioners in the region and across Nigeria, where some pensioners earn as low as N350 monthly pension.

Olusegun Abatan, the NUP Public Relations Officer for the zone, expressed profound disappointment at the inaction of the governors, who seem to ignore the financial struggles faced by retirees.

“Governors’ salaries have continued to increase while some of them still factor in life pensions for themselves after spending four to eight years, without thinking about the lives of pensioners as well as their gratuities and pensions,” Abatan said. He described the last payment of pensioners’ gratuities between 2012 and 2014 by many states in the zone as “criminal and unacceptable.”

The lack of a minimum pension, in contrast to the minimum wage for workers, has exacerbated the economic difficulties of pensioners, especially following the removal of petrol subsidy.

Abatan stressed that this policy change significantly affected pensioners, making covering medical expenses and other essential needs even harder.

“It is disheartening to tell you that while workers have a minimum wage, there is no minimum pension,” Abatan added, underscoring the painful irony in the government’s policies.

The NUP in the South-West zone is working on its scale of pension review to present to all the states in the zone, and possibly to other zones across Nigeria.

While acknowledging the limitations in their power, Abatan emphasized that the union had “other means to drive and achieve our demands.”

The demand for a minimum pension resonates as a clarion call to action for state and federal governments to address an issue affecting a vulnerable population segment.

The pensioners’ struggle in the South-West zone is a microcosm of broader social and economic challenges that continue to shape the discourse on fairness, dignity, and the moral responsibility of governments toward their citizens.

As Abatan urged Nigerians to stand up for their rights, the pensioners’ demands add to the growing chorus of voices seeking a more empathetic and equitable approach to governance, which places human dignity at the center of policy and decision-making.

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