It is indeed heart-wrenching to witness our elderly pensioners, our revered mothers and fathers, standing in seemingly endless queues, imploring the state and federal governments for the payment of their long-overdue gratuities and pension arrears. These are dedicated Nigerians who have dutifully served as civil servants and workers for several years, only to find themselves denied the essential payments they deserve upon retirement.
Tragically, many of these individuals, in their twilight years, fall prey to illness and incapacitation, a condition that deteriorates without access to the necessary medical services, which are often inadequate or unavailable in their place of residence.
The plight of our retired military personnel and those who have served in public security agencies is equally heart-rending. These brave heroes, who once defended our nation and risked their lives to provide security and prevent crime, often find themselves neglected in their old age.
The widows of these gallant men and women who lost their lives in active service to our nation are often reported to be living in abject poverty. They are forced to relinquish their homes, whether in the barracks or rented apartments, due to a lack of financial means. Their children, left desolate and stranded, struggle to stay in school. These unguided youth, in turn, become potential threats to our society.
These inadequacies have far-reaching consequences for our nation’s growth. Civil servants who are still in active service become disheartened and insecure about their post-retirement future. Many resort to self-help measures, engaging in corrupt practices and embezzling government funds, leading to a lack of dedication to their duties.
We often hear serving police officers, military personnel, and other public servants openly complain about their insufficient salaries and the uncertainty of their future after retirement. These grievances contribute to the rampant bribery and corruption within our country.
It is imperative that governments at all levels, especially our elected officials, acknowledge and address these issues. While they and their families enjoy luxurious lifestyles, these civil and public servants and security officers are mired in severe poverty. Change is urgently needed. We cannot aspire to eradicate corruption when those who serve diligently have no clarity about their future.
Under the Renewed Hope offered by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it is essential that the narrative changes. Unpaid gratuities and pensions of retired civil servants must be addressed promptly. Furthermore, the introduction of various social security packages is essential to ensure a better quality of life for both serving and retired men and women.
In Nigeria, we tend to neglect our children when they are young, exploit our youth, who are meant to be the leaders of the future, and mistreat our elderly citizens. Such treatment is not a reflection of a compassionate and caring society. Our leaders must reflect on their actions and strive to ensure that all segments of our population are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, under the leadership of Dr. Betta Edu, has taken commendable steps in addressing these issues, and we hope that even more can be accomplished in this regard.
- By Olaseni O. Egbeyemi