ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – The Association of Ex-Service Pensioners has disassociated itself and also shelved the plans by a group of military retirees to embark on a protest as a result of non-payment of pension arrears and harmonisation of the salary review.
The president of the association, Col. Ahmed Zubair (rtd), at a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, said that the ex-military pensioners had dialogued with the Federal Government through the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), and presented their case to them.
Zubair, who was in the company of the national coordinator of the association, Col. Henry Ikoghode (rtd), said that they gave the Federal Government a list of the areas to take adequate action to remedy the pension anomalies pointed out by the military retirees.
He said that those who had planned to embark on the protest were “ill-informed” and that no group should claim to be speaking or acting on behalf of the entire Military Pensioners.
“It is therefore illogical for any group to start embarking on any form of protests now that the Government appears to be taking genuine steps towards solving the Military Pensions Problem,” he said.
He listed some prayers of the ex-service Pensioners to the government through the DHQ, which are: “Pay the military pensioners the balance of 20.37% which was illegally deducted from their original 53.37% pension increment during the implementation of CONAFSS 2010; carry out harmonisation with effect from HAFSS 2003 salary review which took effect from October 1,2003.
“Pay the balance of retirement benefits to officers and soldiers who disengaged from military service between 2003 and 2006 using the approved monetised benefits of HAFSS 2003; implement the new minimum wage salary review (CONAFSS 2011) to the military pensioners; and carry out the correct computation of the pension aspect of CONAFSS 2007 using the approvable pensionable benefits.”
Zubair noted that the main cause of the ongoing military pension problem is the failure of the government to carryout harmonisation since 2003, adding that the “correct pension cannot possibly be paid when harmonisation has not been carried out after five successive salary reviews in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011”.
He lamented that the direct consequence of this lack of harmonisation is a situation whereby the pension of an Officer or Soldier who disengaged earlier in the same rank and years of service, is far less than the pension of their counterparts who just disengaged from service.
According to him, no known version of the Terms and Conditions of military service and laws of the land that supports what he described as anomaly.
“Yet, that has now become the rule rather than the exception and it does not seem to border any government until now that the Government has agreed to implement it. This is one of the major concessions the Government has made using our dialogue with them,” he stated.
Speaking further, Zubair clarified that the quarterly payment of the 33% arrears (from 2010 to 2013), which is ongoing is an indication that the 20.37% deducted from the pensioners during the implementation of the 2010 salary review was done illegally.
He further clarified that the quarterly payment of the 33% arrears itself is not bad but that the Federal Government violated the constitution through the implementation of the 2010 salary review.
Fortunately, he said, part of government’s concession to us is the implementation of the 20.37% which was illegally deducted from the original 53.37%, adding that the “government has also promised to look into the possibility of paying the remaining six quarters of the 33% arrears in two instalments to pave way for the next salary review, which is already overdue”.
Zubair also noted that despite their conciliatory stand, the Association “have every cause to embark on protest when it becomes absolutely necessary to do so, considering the shoddy and sub-human pension conditions which the Military Pensioners have been subjected for the past 13 years”.
“However, we have decided against the protest for now because the pension havoc had already wreaked on the military before the present administration.
“Moreover, we have discussed with the present government through the DHQ and they have made important concessions which when implemented will bring relief to the Military Pensioners,” he remarked.