- As Federal retirees lament 14 months unpaid pension
The nation’s Maritime industry, in spite of its ailing status, donated an ultra modern vicarage to St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Isade Ijebu, Ogun state as part of its contributions towards boosting Godliness and good citizenship.
The SIFAX Group Executive Vice Chairman, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, who effected the feat, said it was his humble way of worshiping God, even as he stressed the need by all and sundry, not to ignore God, on the excuse of pursuing mundane glories.
“I count it a great privilege to be used for the provision of this modern vicarage. We know that every little effort will help in the propagation of the gospel. Things like this bring me incredible joy as I derive my joy from affecting others”, the donor, who was represented by Barrister Talabi Adekitan, Manager, Legal Services, SIFAX Group, state, expressing his firm belief in God and the need to appreciate Him for his blessings and favour showered on him.
From Right: Barrister Talabi Adekitan, Manager, Legal Services and representative of Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, CEO, SIFAX Group; Right Reveren Ayodele Awosoga, Bishop of Ijebu Diocese (Anglican Communion); General Samson Odunsi (Rtd), Baba Ijo, St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Isade Ijebu and another guest during the commissioning of a vicarage donated to the church by Afolabi..
The vicarage, a multi-million naira four-bedroom flat and a two-room chalet, meant to serve the need of the church’s vicar and guests; and which was adequately equipped with state-of-the-art conveniences was subsequently commissioned by Right Reverend Ayodele Awosoga, the Bishop of Ijebu Diocese (Anglican Communion).
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony attended by clergy and laity across the diocese, the Bishop eulogized Dr. Taiwo Afolabi for the gesture, noting that the new vicarage has made the church at Isade Ijebu an envy among its contemporaries in the diocese.
“I want to thank Dr. Afolabi, our good son, who has decided to be a blessing to us in this diocese by reason of this donation. We are deeply grateful. By the way, the vicarage was also furnished by him. I am sure this would be a great challenge to well to do individuals in the society to support the activities of the church,” he said.
Various dignitaries including the ‘Baba Ijo’ of the church, Major General Samson Odunsi (Rtd) and his wife, Otunba Elizabeth Kikelomo Odunsi, graced the occasion.
It would be recalled that only last month, the Managing Director of the Lagos Channel Management, Danny Fuchs also donated N5m to five orphanages and restoration homes; N1m apiece, for similar reason, emphasizing the fact that the country could be better, if the Maritime industry was encouraged to flourish.
The homes included the Lagos State Special Correctional Centre for Girls; the Lagos State Government Children Centre; the Bab-es-Salam Home; the Bola Mofo Zion Shelter; and reenacting an annual Corporate Social Responsibility from which several homes in Lagos, Ibadan and Kano have benefited, in the past six years.
In the meantime, scores of pensioners, who retired from Federal Government’s agencies, stormed the state secretariat of the Ogun State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Oke Ilewo, Abeokuta, on Tuesday, lamenting the non-payment of their gratuities and pensions for 14 months.
The pensioners, who said they retired in November 2015, and were under the contributory pension scheme, lamented that since their retirement, they had neither been paid their gratuities nor their pensions.
They said having served the nation diligently for 35 years, they were left to languish in penury.
They displayed placards with different inscriptions, including, ‘It is our money, give it to us,’ ‘This is our savings, why punishing us,’ and ‘Delayed entitlements breed corruption.’
The protesters were made up of pensioners who retired from the Nigeria Television Authority, the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, the Federal University of Agriculture and the Federal Medical Centre, all in Abeokuta.
The interim National President, NTA Contributory Pensioners Association of Nigeria, Mr. Kayode Da-Silva, said the experience of the pensioners were contrary to the intent and purpose of the contributory pension scheme, and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to come to their rescue by releasing their entitlements to them.
He said, “With mixed feelings of neglect and regret, we wish to let President Muhammadu Buhari know the harrowing experience of the senior citizens of this nation.
“Many of us here, who had served the nation diligently and meritoriously in the federal civil service for 35 years, are now languishing in penury because of non-payment of gratuity and pension since our retirement in November 2015, more than 14 months ago.”
Da-Silva noted that the rule guiding the contributory pension scheme stipulated that they get their payment within three months after their retirement.
He added that neither the Federal Government nor the National Pension Commission had given any credible and satisfactory reason for the protracted delay in the payment.
Da-silva further said many of the pensioners, who suffered from old age related ailments, could not take care of their health as drugs for such ailments were expensive.
He said, “Only God knows how many of the pensioners have died on account of this undue and undeserved delay. A number of us suffer from age related ailments and must bé on drugs daily.
“Such drugs are expensive and how do we take care of our health when our gratuities and pensions are not paid? At home front, there is tension because of the inability to discharge domestic responsibilities.”
The pensioners thus called on President Buhari to declare a state of emergency on the plight of the Federal Government pensioners and “order immediate payment of our entitlements.”
Additional report from Punch