Retrenched 1991 staff members of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) have called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on the full payment of their gratuities and entitlements.
The call followed the death of their member, Mr. Eugene Akwazie, due to the lack of money to take care of his failing health.
Akwazie, who lived at Olodi Ajegunle Apapa, died last week after NPA denied him his pension for 30 years. He joined 400 others of the 2,750 ex-employees, who were reported to have passed on while waiting to get their gratuities.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, their spokesperson, Sylvanus Okoro, lamented that their members were dying in droves due to the attitude of NPA.
The entitlements, he said, include pension and gratuity which have been enmeshed in what they called a “fraudulent computation and verification exercise” meant to shortchange them of their rights and privileges as former employees of the authority.
He lamented that despite directives from several quarters, including a supreme court judgment asking the management of the authority to pay, NPA had refused to comply fully with the judgment.
According to Okoro, the management of NPA had portrayed its insensitivity to the plight of its former employees of 1991 and as a reputable organisation, should not be inclined to frustrate the efforts of employees who had assisted in building not only goodwill but also given the organisation its pride of place in the maritime industry and beyond.
He claimed that during their time in service, they were never involved in destruction or damaging of NPA’s properties, just as they were not caught stealing at any point in time.
“The retirees neither absconded from duty nor abandoned their duty posts for any reason. We were obedient servants before we were retrenched on the 10th of June 1991, without the payment of our entitlements. The above mentioned infractions are what could deprive an employee of his/her statutory rights of pensions. We do not know why we deserve this severe punishment for over 30 years from NPA where we put in our best during our youthful age.”
“We just lost one of our members here in Lagos. NPA has denied him his pension. Nobody knows who will be next. Our heart is bleeding.
“Many of us are bedridden without money to buy drugs and if nothing is done urgently by the President by expediting actions to instruct NPA management to fully implement the full payment of our entitlements, more of the 1991 retrenched staff of NPA will pass on without the hope that they or their dependents will ever receive their entitlements,” he said.
He averred that their untimely death was accelerated by lack of financial resources to adequately manage their peculiar health conditions and their families.
Their representative called on President Buhari and Rotimi Amaechi to intervene and implement what they called “our full pension, gratuity and redundant benefits” as granted by the Supreme Court in suit number SC/190/2003, which affirmed the judgment of the High Court of Lagos State in suit number LD/1827/1992.
On October 6, 2017, Amaechi had inaugurated a committee, comprising representatives of the management of NPA, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Chambers of Simmons Cooper Partners and NPA’s lawyer, Mr. Bayo Osipitan, financial consultants from Tova Heights Associates, consultants from Matiks Consulting Limited and some members of the executives of the 1991 ex-employees of NPA, with the mandate of considering their grievances in the light of the Supreme Court judgment.