Pensioners oppose Ngige for registering new body

The registration of the Nigeria Union of Contributory Pensioners under the chairmanship of Asimiefele Aigbokheleode by former minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has been described as unconstitutional by the Sylvanus Nwaiwu-faction of the NUCP and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners.

While announcing the creation of the union during a valedictory session held in his honour, Ngige had said the NUCP was registered to cater for contributory pensioners and retirees of parastatals.

The former minister added that the NUP would take care of only non-contributory pensioners from the federal ministries and the public service.

But in an interview with our correspondent on Monday, Nwaiwu said it was wrong to register a body when there was an existing body bearing the same name and having the same mandate under the NUP.

He said Ngige was misled into doing so, adding that petitions had been submitted to the Presidency, National Assembly and relevant bodies to challenge Ngige’s action.

Nwaiwu said, “The Nigeria Union of Pensioners remains the umbrella body of all pensioners’ unions in Nigeria. Contributory pensioners joined the union in 2017 at the instance of the former minister, Ngige. He could not attend the ceremony but he tendered his apology later and demanded the details of our election.

“For him to have gone ahead and approve the registration of another union is a surprise to all of us. It is a deliberate attempt by him to create crisis among the leaders who are statesmen.”

When contacted on the development and some of the claims by the Aigbokheleode-led NUCP, the Head of Information at the NUP, Bunmi Ogunkolade, told our correspondent the NUP only recognised the faction led by Nwaiwu.

During a press conference, Aigbokheleode had frowned on what he described as undue delay by PenCom on the payment of N56.5bn to offset the 33.5 per cent and 15 per cent accrued arrears of contributory pensioners’ benefits.

Reacting, Ogunkolade said, “The faction registered by Ngige liaised with the former minister because they do not want to be under the NUP. The 2014 Act as amended that established contributory pensioners does not give room for transition into unionism because there is no provision for collection of dues.

“The 33.5 per cent this new body refers to is like a promise that has not been financially backed by the Federal Government. Last month, the NUP and state representatives on the NUCP met PenCom representatives in Abuja on the issue.

“PenCom said after the money is approved, it would get back to pensioners. We have approached the National Assembly but unfortunately, we have to wait for the inauguration of another House of Representatives’ Committee on Pension before we can continue to pursue the money through the House and the Senate.”

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