By Stephen Ubanna
The conflict of interest between the Nigerian Ports Authority Concerned Pensioners, NPACP and the NPA Pensioners Welfare Association, NPAPWA, appears to have been settled. This is because Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman , led NPA, Management, have thrown its weight behind the Authority’s Pensioners Welfare Association, PWA.
The Management may have intervened to save the situation about the management of the Authority’s pension scheme by recognizing the NPAPWA, as the authentic Association of the Authority’s, Pensioners Association at the instance of the Court, giving it the ammunition to describe the NPACP, as the blackmail section of its former Staff , who were disengaged from the service several years ago . ‘’The group is not known to any Nigerian law’’, the Authority said.
Given a clearer picture of the situation, Jato Adams, General Manager, the Authority Corporate and Strategic Communications, disclosed that the NPACP group which is led by one Charles Ayo Binitie were former employees of the Authority who retired from the service between 2006 and 2007 but had refused to belong to NPAPWA, which is recognized by law.
Adams who could not hide the Management preference for NPAPWA, disclosed that ‘’it was recognized on the strength of a July 2018 letter addressed to Hajia Usman, the Authority Managing Director, by the Chief Registrar of a Federal High Court, in Lagos, A.A. Tahir,. The Court was said to have recognized Umar Ali Imam, as the authentic Caretaker Committee member in=-charge of the NPAPWA. This clearly shows the neutrality of the Management on the matter prior to the Court pronouncement . The Authority may have allowed the the two groups to sort out themselves in Court to avoid being accused of taking sides by group or the other.. The matter was said to have dragged on in the Court for years until respite came in 2018, when the Court in , gave its Judgment, thus putting to rest the issue of the Authentic Pension Association that should be relating with the Management on matters affecting Pensioners of the Authority.
Many believe that if the Hajia Usman led Management had recognised the Iman led NPAPWA, without allowing the Court to adjudicate on the matter, Binitie and his group, would use it as an opportunity to declare war on the Management of NPA by resorting to every available means of blackmail.
Shedding more light to controversial NPACP, Adams noted, that ‘’even though the Management had found a legitimate ground not to deal with the NPACP, the NPA, under the close watch of Hajia Usman, has at various times in the last three years thrown its doors open to give them audience and to listen to their grievances and complaints.
Based on their Complaints, he explained that the Management had taken steps to address them , which resulted into various meetings with some of their Representatives and the affected 8,000 NPA pensioners. The fallout of the various meetings, according to him, was the harmonisation of pensions scheme ranging from 15% to 58 % paid to all categories of pensioners including the 2006 and 2007 set. This is in addition to the increase of pensions to all categories of pensioners including members of the Binitie group by 3% and payment of 18 months arrears of 3% increase on the harmonized pension/salary from January 2016 to June 2017.
According the Authority has never defaulted in settling the pensioners as it ensures that that they get their monthly settlements which cumulatively runs into about N700 million on the 22nd of every month, way ahead of serving members of Staff.
Moreso, all the pensioners , the NPA General Manager confirmed have access to the Authority medical facilities at no cost. The Authority was said to have recently extended the opportunities for the pensioners on its payroll to attend referral medical facilities across the six geo-political regions of the country.
An aggrieved Adams noted that in spite of the efforts by the Authority to review its pensions every five years alongside any Federal civil service salary review, members of the NPACP led by Binitie, have continued to hold the Hajia Usman management to ransom.
The Value News learnt that their grouse was that the 3% increase approved by the Management was too small and must be increased. Adams lamented, ‘’ this proposal is not only outrageous but unacceptable to the Authority, which is aware of its finances and could not accommodate additional unsustainable financial commitments.
The demand of the NPACP for a further increase for its pension from the current 3% may have been defeated by the National Salaries,Incomes and Wages Commission which had clarified such issues , by insisting that increase of such remuneration is at the discretion of the Authority. This is bad news for Binitie and his group who already have an axe to grand with the Authority, over the alleged increase of serving Staff salary in 2018, leaving out the pensioners.
The NPACP, may have played into the hands of the Authority by dragging the Hajia Usman led Management into the controversy of the pensions by writing the Management which had forced the Authority to take a decision never to have anything to do with members of the group unless they channel their demand through the NPAPWA.
Appealing to NPACP members who were said to have spent various sums of money on the claims of settling people at the Authority National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission ,to facilitate the increase in their pensions to desist from it, Adams, the NPA, Spokesperson maintains that ‘’it has no dealings with the group.
He was said to have reassured the serving Staff and pensioners of its Commitment of the Authority to their welfare, but declared that’’ it will not allow itself to be ‘’ forced by the NPACP or any other group to do anything’’.
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