The Federal Government on Wednesday said it had cleared the inherited arrears of accrued pension benefits for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 by releasing N41.5bn and N12.5bn for January, February and March this year to the National Pension Commission for onward payment to retirees.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, confirmed the release of the money in a statement signed by the Director of Information in the ministry, Salisu Dambatta.
She said the government was concerned about the plight of pensioners who retired under the Contributory Pension Scheme without being paid.
The statement quoted her to have said, “Despite conflicting demands for available cash, President Muhammadu Buhari has always expressed concern about the plight of workers and pensioners. Consistent with this, we have released N41.5bn, which clears the arrears inherited from the previous administration relating to the period 2013 to 2015, and underpayments in 2016.
“This will bring relief to thousands of our elders who have served and deserve to be paid their entitlements promptly and fully. The amount we paid includes arrears and the impact is that those who retired as far back as 2013, who had been unable to access pension under the contributory scheme due to non-payment, will now be paid.”
To avoid future accumulation of pension arrears, the minister stated that henceforth, the monthly allocation to PenCom based on the 2017 appropriation would regularly be paid along with the monthly salaries of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government.
Retired federal civil servants had on March 16 staged a protest at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Finance over their unpaid pension.
The retirees, under the aegis of the League of Federal Service Contributory Pension Retirees, led by the Coordinator, Mr. Chike Ogbechie, claimed that those who had retired in the last 15 months had yet to receive their pension.
He said the association had made a submission to the National Assembly on the 2017 budget, stating that if the sum of N200bn was not approved for payment of outstanding pension, it would be difficult to pay the backlog.