OCCUPY PORTS! Angry NPA retirees sets to move into ports today

Angry NPA retirees sets to move into ports today
… Threaten to picket ports indefinitely

Baring last minute changes in their plans, thousands of former employees of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), who were retired in 2006/2007, intend to, beginning from today, occupy various port locations across the country indefinitely to drive home their grievances against the NPA Management.
The 2006/2007 NPA retirees, according to their leadership, who are planning to move into the ports with their beddings, intend to engage in “peaceful demonstrations and rallies” at these facilities, even as they called on President Goodluck Jonathan to direct the NPA Managing Director to enroll them, with immediate effect, on monthly pension and to pay them all their outstanding entitlements.
The National Chairman, NPA 2006/2007 Severed Retirees, Mr. Charles Ayo Binitie, while addressing journalists yesterday in Lagos, asserted that the members are entitled to monthly pension based on the premise of a circular dated 3rd August, 2009, which was issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance from the Office of the then Director-General,

Budget Office of the Federation, Dr Bright Okogu, and titled ENROLMENT OF SEVERED STAFF INTO THE DEFINED BENEFITS PENSION SCHEME. Binitie defended the retirees’ stand on the part of the circular,
copies of which he distributed to journalists. The circular stated inter alia: “Following the large number of complaints this office has received from former staff that that were severed from service concerning the unwillingness of the Agencies they served to enroll them for monthly pension, it has become exigent to clarify the issue.
For the avoidance of doubt, enrollment into the various pension schemes is automatic for those who are due for pension at the same time they exit the service. This equally applies to those former staff who were severed by the Bureau of Public Service Reform, pursuant to the Public Service reform. The enrollment takes effect immediately after the one-year pension paid as part of the severance package lapses.”

The circular further stated: “The essence of this circular is to reemphasize the need for Pension Departments/Agencies to enroll their former staff who were severed from service just the same way those who exited before July 2007 were enrolled.
It is important to note that the inadequacy or otherwise of fund releases to run the schemes is a different matter that should not constitute an impediment to their enrollment.”
Binitie said that the NPA 2006/2007 severed retirees were affected by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) Public Service reforms and are therefore entitled to monthly pension and other outstanding benefits in accordance with their Conditions of Service but lamented that the management of NPA has refused to pay them their entitlement rights.

He said that their predicament started when a joint communiqué was signed between the Federal Government represented by a Presidential Taskforce headed by the Minister of Finance, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Ministers of Transport and Labour, and the two house unions.
He said that the Presidential Taskforce came up in the wake of the Federal Government Policy to reform the public service in 2005 through the downsizing of the public workforce.
“Consequently, the Managing Director (Mr. Adebayo Sarumi) via a letter reference MD/10/FMT/VOL/XXI/0075 dated 1st March, 2005 requested for an obtained approval from the Honourable Minister of Transport to downsize in three phases. These exercise commenced from April 2005 to February 2006 and all those affected had their various criteria for being relieved of their employment and were placed on monthly pension toll they die,” Binitie said.

He said that, as decided by the taskforce, employees of NPA were made to fill Employment Disengagement Benefit Option forms in line with the downsizing reform. ‘In early 2006 after the joint communiqué was signed, the Management (General Managers to the least personnel (cleaners) were made to fill and endorse a form titled “OPTION 1 and 11”. This form was filled by those who were retired from April 2006 to August 2007 and those still in the service of NPA today; with exception of those who came in after March 2006. At no point in the history of NPA since its establishment in 1955 had anybody been denied their pension due to a taskforce decision that has nothing to do with existing government policy or the governing condition of service of NPA. For the purpose of posterity, what shall we tell our children and those to come that we worked in NPA for 10 to 35 years and by the decision of a Presidential Taskforce denied us our pension,” Binite said.
He disclosed that the retirees will carry out their planned mass protest today, starting with blocking the gate of the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa.
Also speaking at the press conference, Lagos State Chairman, Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Comrade Kenny Abiola Bakare, urged the Federal Government to heed to the demands of the retirees.

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