Stakeholders Divided Over FG’s N25,000 Grant For Vulnerable Pensioners

Stakeholders Divided Over FG’s N25,000 Grant For Vulnerable Pensioners

by Victor Ndubuisi

The declaration by the Federal Government to begin monthly payments of N25,000 to needy retirees has elicited a range of emotions.

While many have praised the administration for the decision, others believe it is a drop in the bucket. reports that when she visited with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in Abuja, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Betta Edu, announced the government’s strategy as captured in the National Social Register of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).

She stated that include retired civil servants in the initiative was part of President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to labour leaders, which he was keen to follow through on.

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“The President mentioned very clearly that vulnerable pensioners should immediately be captured on the National Social Register to be able to benefit from the Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, as part of the national social safety net expansion. And this was made clear in his speech on Independence Day, where he committed N25, 000 for 15 million households for three months,” she stated during the meeting earlier in the month.

She urged the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, to expedite the process of gathering data on potential beneficiaries so that they could begin receiving CCT.

“I want us to fast-track this. If we can get this data and information within two weeks, we are sure that you will be beneficiaries immediately, and you can start earning from next month which is November, that’s the main reason why I’m here, Dr. Edu told the labour leaders.

While responding, NLC President Joe Ajaero praised the ministry for the various poverty alleviation schemes it has implemented, as well as the minister’s zeal and commitment to her job.

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He also stated that addressing the core causes of poverty would be the most effective method to address the issue.

“Let us not only look at how to solve this problem, but also the root cause of it, because if we continue to treat the effects of poverty without getting to the cause, it will persist. Let us look at other social welfare interventions and job creation that will go a long way to supporting families,” he said in response to the government’s initiative.


Godwin Abumisi, President of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, commended both President Tinubu and the Minister for deeming retirees deserving of federal government benefits.

He bemoaned the fact that seniors earned as little as N5,000 to N10,000 per month, but expressed delight because N25,000 was a large sum for them. He praised the minister for her outstanding job thus far and asked her to keep up the pace.

However, the president of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, believes that the intervention is a drop in the bucket given Nigeria’s current economic reality.


He praised the government for increasing pensioners’ take-home pay because the cost of living is so high, but lamented that Nigerians, including pensioners, are in this situation because the Federal Government decided to eliminate petrol subsidies without proper consultation or on incorrect advice.

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“And that is what created all the problems. But, even without removing the subsidy, there was the need to increase the take home pay of pensioners and other salary earners.


“So now, with the removal of subsidy, the addition of N25,000 is just a drop in the ocean because the price of everything has skyrocketed, and just a few items would wipe out that N25,000,” he stated.

He claimed that there is no better time than now to repair the country’s refineries, and he asked the government to reconsider the withdrawal of gasoline subsidies to see how it may be tweaked to improve people’s welfare.

He also said that while the notion of paying seniors N25,000 was admirable, he lamented that it came too late because the damage had already been done.

He told Newsmen that: “It is necessary for the Federal Government to fix our refineries and revisit the issue of fuel subsidy. I think the decision to remove fuel subsidies in the first place was ill advised.

“Nobody is saying that the fuel subsidy should not be removed, but there should have been a staggered process, while other means of livelihood are being improved, including for example, saying that before you remove X percentage of subsidy, you would have converted so many vehicles to the usage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG.


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“Then, there would be some removal again and some other measures would have been taken and it wouldn’t have affected the economy the way it has. So, to me, assisting our pensioners is a good one, but it is something that is coming late in the day. The damage has already been done.”

Dr. Ugwu Anthony, an Associate Professor of Medical Imaging and lecturer at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, praised the government’s action but warned that it would not be enough to mitigate the impact of what is happening now.

He voiced concern that it could be used to enrich some people.


“I just hope that it will not be another avenue to embezzle public funds. All in all, it is good but it will not be able to take care of the situation on ground for the pensioners because Nigerians are generally suffering,” he submitted

However, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, praised the government’s move, saying that because the circumstance was abnormal, the way to resolving the problem could not be normal either.

“The fact is that we are already faced with challenges. There is inflation all over the land and there is no money anywhere.


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“So, if the government has decided to help the pensioners, with proper documentation, I think it is a welcome development. It is better to have half bread than nothing. At least the government has made an attempt to say it understands what the pensioners are going through,” he told Newsmen

Maxi Okwu, a lawyer and former national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, argues that giving N25,000 monthly grants to needy retirees will not alleviate any problems.


Instead of solving any problems, he believes it will increase the country’s inflation rate.

“Naira is sliding seriously and instead of finding a lasting solution to it, the government is busy dashing hand-outs. The refineries should be fixed. What can N25,000 buy for anybody in the current economy, where the value of naira is almost like that of a tissue paper? The government should just sit up and do something to put the economy back on track,” he advised.

For a former member of the Katsina State House of Assembly, Yusuf Shehu, the programme will not work.

He told Newsmen: “All these programmes that the government is trying to carry out as a way of cushioning the effect of fuel subsidy removal will not work.

“How many pensioners do we have that will benefit from the palliative? We are concerned about the generality of Nigerians. The population of Nigeria is about 20 million people.

“Out of this number, maybe, between three and five million people are pensioners, what happens to the rest of Nigerians that are equally suffering as a result of the subsidy removal?”

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He observed that while the federal government has provided each state government N2 billion for the same purpose, it has had no effect because people continue to suffer.


“He urged the government to do something urgently to address the hunger that is ravaging over 70 percent of Nigerian households.

“There is hunger in the land. The government should just sit down with its economic team and find a lasting solution to the issue of subsidy removal. Look at the exchange rate; $1 is equal to N100, how can the common man survive? The government should focus seriously on the problem facing the country because Nigerians are suffering.

“Many people cannot afford to buy fuel at the current price to travel for businesses, and even to go to work. Some states have reduced the working days from five to three days because workers can no longer afford to go to work five days in a week, particularly teachers and health workers in rural areas.

“So, the N25,000 to vulnerable pensioners will not have any impact because the percentage of the beneficiaries is nothing to write home about,” he submitted.

However, Seigha Manager, a Niger Delta activist, called the practise a disgrace.

No respectable administration in Western culture, he claims, would do what the government is doing. He bemoaned that Nigerians have been blindfolded because they would not accept what is going on in Nigeria otherwise.

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He questioned the fate of millions of other Nigerians if the government is just concerned with retirees and serving workers, despite the fact that the N25,000 would not help anyone given the country’s current inflation rate.

He told Newsmen: “What will happen to Okada riders, market women, unemployed graduates? So many people have been displaced by the system.

“Unfortunately the labour unions, the NLC and TUC, are basically working with the government because of the pay off system that will benefit them. They are not working for Nigerians and it is very sad.

“The programme is not well thought out. If it was properly thought out, every Nigerian should benefit from it. Anything that will displace some Nigerians for the benefit of others is not acceptable. It is quite unfortunate that the government is doing this.”

Bunmi Ogunkola, the Union’s Public Relations Officer, told Newsmen that the pensioners are grateful to the President since the financial incentive will be a huge comfort to them.

He said: ‘We are very grateful to the Minister of Humanitarian affairs. We thank Mr. President for the gesture. It will go a long way to relieving the pensioners’ economic pain.”

He disagreed with people who stated it was late and might not change anything, and he wondered how individuals who are not elderly would know what pensioners are going through.

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“Some people may say it is not enough, but are those people ready to give us N25, 000? They are not pensioners, so they can’t understand our plight. So, they should leave us alone; we are happy with the money,” he said.

He stated that the issue is not whether the N25,000 would alleviate their suffering, but rather how the government can extend the term beyond three months.

He said: “The only thing is that the period of three months is too short. In fact, we are asking the government to extend the cash award beyond three months.

“We want the payment to start first in October as promised, but we also want the government to see how it can extend it beyond three month because it will do a lot for us.”


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