Sequel to the resolution of the House of Representatives on March 30, 2017 summoning the responsible members of the executive, respectively the Ministers of Budget and Planning, Finance alongside the Directors General of Pension Commission and Budget Office to brief the House at plenary on the challenges confronting Pensioners in Nigeria. Recall that the resolution came following a motion moved by Hon. Abubakar Shakarau who raised an alarm over the non release of fund for payment of pensioners which has exposed the retired senior citizens who have devoted active parts of their lives in meritorious service to the nation to untold sufferings.
With the leave of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the Honorable Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udo Udoma took the podium to address the House stating that the issues associated with payment of pensioners is of critical concern to the President. He informed that having brought this matter to the fore, the President has directed that there should be a collaboration between the relevant agencies of government responsible for pension related issues and quickly ensure that all bottlenecks are sorted out. He added that if need be there could be additional budgetary allocations to be proposed to the National Assembly for purposes of addressing this critical issue.
Mr. Speaker yielded the floor to Members to quiz the Minister on the steps taken to tackle the challenges. They asked questions on the priority given by the present administration to pension and salaries. They also queried why the government has to wait until now to issue a presidential directive over the pension issue, said the Minister has not told the House what the government is doing or will do to close the huge gap of pension liabilities. Moreover, the whole essence of the briefing is to find a way of assuaging the sufferings of the pensioners.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun confirmed that there is a Presidential directive that a Committee be constituted to address the issues. She noted that pension issue is not just a federal government problem, said the involvement of State governments makes it a national issue. She stated that N52 billion have been recently released by the Ministry to offset some of the arrears. Also, due to shortfalls of revenue, the estimated liabilities may not get a "one-time snap shot" measure. She further submitted that the issue however has consistently been that of appropriations.
The Speaker Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara charged the Ministers to show commitment towards resolving the issues at hand. He informed that during his engagement with President Muhammadu Buhari on this matter, the President gave his word that the plight of pensioners in the country will be tackled head-on, adding that the House will not entertain any excuse of failure to address the pension issue. "I sincerely hope this intervention will be the last on this matter of pension" he stressed.