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The sorry plight of pensioners of the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency is getting more pathetic as their gratuities have remain unpaid ten years after retirement by NICON Insurance Limited, administrators of their Defined Benefit Scheme. .
The pensioners under the auspice of the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency branch of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners have made several efforts over the years to get NICON Insurance Limited to pay their gratuity without success.
In a recent interview I had with the General Secretary of the pensioners union, Emeka Aniche, explained that their members has severally written to NICON insurance, the public complain commission, the human rights commission among others without any meaningful success in resolving the payment of their gratuity.
Emeka said 39 members who retired from National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, Kaduna from 2005 to 2007 out of whom 21 have not received their gratuity, where not captured in the new federal government Pension Scheme called Contributory Pension Scheme which took proper effect in July 2007. These 39 retired staff are expected to receive their gratuity in the old way known as Defined Benefit Scheme which ii the case of National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency is administered by NICON Insurance Ltd, an erstwhile federal Government Institution.
While 18 out of the 39 pensioners have received part of their gratuity 21 pensioners have however not received anything despite the accumulated deposit of over 118.27 million naira to the Deposit Administration Account by the federal Government for the purpose of settling he gratuity of the 39 pensioners from the National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, Kaduna.
Emeka reiterated that it is important to note that The Deposit Administration Account is exclusively for the settlement of the benefits of the agency’s retired staff, which makes it possible for them to receive their benefits not later than 3 months after disengagement. But unfortunately it has not been so since the privatization of NICON Insurance as the 39 pensioner of National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency are still petitioning for the recovery of their gratuity.
In a letter in reply to the complaints of the pensioners, NICON Insurance stated that all outstanding gratuity as 2005 have been covered, and that the schedule/desk officer in charge of pension can be contacted with supporting documents for verification. It also said the said Deposit Administration account was not for the purpose of settling gratuity alone but also pension claims.
Some of the pensioners at a recent meeting with officials of NICON Insurance said they have lost confidence in the ability of NICON Insurance to pay their gratuity while appealing for the intervention of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The reason for their pessimism is predicated on the fact that officials of NICON Insurance limited told them in a meeting held on 27th April, 2015 at NICON Insurance head office Abuja that they are cash strapped and need the assistance of the pensioners to dispose off some of NICON properties across the federation to raise money to pay their gratuity.
The pensioners are appealing to President Mohamadu Buhari, The Senate President Senator Bukola Saraki, The Speaker of the House of Representative Honorable Yakubu Dogara, The EFCC and all good spirited Nigerians to prevail on NICON Insurance Limited to pay their gratuity.
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