The National Leadership of the United Bank for Africa Plc Pensioners’ Welfare Association, known as UBA Pensioners, has raised strong alarm over what it described as “inhuman treatment and trampling on the constitutional rights of pensioners with much impunity”, by the management of the bank.
UBA Pensioners, which belong to one of the leading Define Benefit Scheme (DBS) Pensioners’ Union in the country: The Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners Association of Nigeria (FEPPPAN), said that UBA Plc Management has continued to send many pensioners of the Bank to early grave with its refusal to heed the persistent demands of the retirees for Medical Care, as a result of the meager pensions (less than Two US Dollars per MONTH) it pays to some of them.
The pensioners therefore, called on the Federal Government, The National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), National Human Rights Commission, International Human Rights Organisations, Civil Society Organisations, Labour Unions, International Financial Bodies, NGOs and other well meaning Nigerians, to come to their aid.
Contained in a statement jointly signed by their National Chairman and General Secretary, Fidelis O. Fapohunda and Franklin O. Erinle, respectively, and delivered at a press conference in Abuja, the pensioners said despite countless promises and plea for patience, the bank has been tactically stiffing life out of their members in numbers by delaying implementation of the constitutionally backed pension increments and other entitlements of pensioners.
While the statement demands “Immediate review of our monthly Pension in line with all Pension increases approved in Nigeria by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) since 1995. Implementation of other entitlements due to our members”
Meanwhile, they vow to picket and ground banking activities of the bank across the country, especially the headquarters in Lagos should the Federal Government and other bodies fail to call the bank to order, especially if UBA continues its trampling on their rights.
Responding to questions from journalists, Mr Erinle, explained; “The matter was reported to the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Abuja. The Commission reaffirmed that Section 173 (3) of the Constitution of this great country needed to be obeyed by UBA Plc. Several letters written by the Commission to UBA Plc on the matter and meetings held in the Commission’s Abuja office yielded no fruits as Tony Elumelu-led Management of UBA Plc chose to treat the Constitution with disrespect and the Commission as a toothless bulldog.
“The pensioners, ranging from retired Executive Directors to Messengers numbering more than 3,000, have been so dehumanized with the least paid getting N1,763.27 per month as pension after many years of faithful services to the Bank.
“It’s conspicuously clear that the Tony Elumelu-led UBA Plc Management is insensitive to the plight of its retired workers and their deplorable conditions, but we have resolved that we shall no longer continue to suffer in silence.
“We therefore call on the Regulatory Authorities to call Tony Elumelu and his team to order by restoring some dignity to the “geese that laid the golden eggs” that the Bank’s new owners are now enjoying.
“We also call on the general public and good spirited Nigerians as well as the International Communities where Tony Elumelu is acknowledged as a philanthropist to prevail on him to ensure that UBA Plc redeems it’s social obligations to the pioneer retired workers, majority of whom are wallowing in abject poverty and many facing imminent untimely death.”
Some of the pensioners who spoke to journalists at the sideline of press conference expressed sadness and displeasure, said the Bank treats and dehumanises them horribly.
Alhaji Adetimehin, a 74-year old pensioner of the Bank said; “UBA Plc under Tony Elumelu as Chairman/Sole Administrator is violating the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with much impunity as regards payment of pensions to the Bank’s Pensioners. The Tony Elumelu- led management has actually succeeded in sending several retired staff of the Bank to their early graves, as the Bank declined the persistent demands for Medical Care even with payment of peanuts as pensions with amount less than Two US Dollars ($2) per month.
“For clarity, we quote Section 173 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria thus; “Pensions shall be reviewed every five years or together with any Federal Civil Service salary reviews, whichever is earlier”. But from 1995 to 2005, pensions in UBA Plc were never reviewed.”
Mr Sopitan, 82-year old pensioner of UBA Plc also said; “Tony Elumelu’s former Bank (Standard Trust Bank Ltd) ostensibly merged with UBA Plc, though this was more of a take-over than a merger in year 2005. During the supposed merger, UBA Pensioners were assured that since the merger was meant to absorb both Assets and Liabilities of the two Banks, monthly payments of pensions would not be adversely affected.
“Just as previously done by the old management of the UBA Plc from 1995 to 2005, even from the post merger year in 2005 to date, there has been no review of pensions in UBA Plc as provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The management of the Bank had always argued that pensions in UBA Plc are not subject to reviews. The Pensioners continued to display maturity and patience in persuading the Bank to do the right thing but to no avail. We are calling on everyone to come help us.”