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In aftermath of protests, Nigerian govt budgets N244bn for military pensioners



The Federal Government has budgeted N244.5 billion for the payment of military pension and gratuities in response to a recent protest by the Retired Members of the Nigerian armed forces (REMENAF) and the Coalition of Concerned Military Veterans (CCV).

President Muhammadu Buhari, accompanied by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and other members of the Federal Executive Council on Friday, October 7, had presented the 2023 budget proposal to a joint session of the National Assembly (NASS).

Buhari, who addressed the joint session of NASS, unveiled a budget of N20.5 trillion for the 2023 fiscal year.

He described the 2023 appropriation bill as a budget of fiscal sustainability and transition.

The President said, “A total expenditure of N20.51 trillion is proposed for the Federal Government in 2023. This includes 2.42 trillion Naira spending by Government-Owned Enterprises.

“The proposed N20.51 trillion 2023 expenditure comprises: Statutory Transfers of N744.11 billion; Non-debt Recurrent Costs of N8.27 trillion; Personnel Costs of N4.99 trillion; Pensions, Gratuities and Retirees’ Benefits of N854.8 billion”.

A breakdown of the N854.8 billion budgeted for Pensions, Gratuities and Retirees’ Benefits revealed that N244.5 billion has been earmarked as payment of military pensions and gratuities.

During the last week of September, the coalition of REMENAF and CCV stormed the ministry of defence in Abuja to protest over “unpaid allowances”.

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The protesters blocked access to the ministry, which is located along Olusegun Obasanjo way in the federal capital territory (FCT).

On one of the banners displayed by the protesters was written ‘Review the wide disparity in pay and pension across the ranks of serving and retired personnel’.

Among other demands by the retired military officers was for the government to direct the immediate payment of pensions to Nigerian civil war veterans verified in the 2015 pension payroll.

The protest, however, was not the first of its kind to occur recently.

The retired officers had attacked the defense and finance departments, as well as the national assembly, in January 2022 over “unpaid allowances.”

Roy Okhidievbie, the coalition’s national secretary, spoke about the protest and stated that it was to seek payment of their “security debarment allowance” that was owed to them by the federal government.

“We have had meetings with the defence minister, [Bashir] Magashi, but he appears to be headstrong, heartless, and unperturbed concerning the grievances of retired military officers, as he never paid nor showed any interest or concern to pay these allowances, especially the security debarment allowance,” he said.

“Interestingly, the President Buhari-led regime has approved the payment of this allowance, but Magashi has refused to make disbursements.”

On his part, Abiodun Durowaiye-Herberts, the spokesperson of the military veterans, said the demonstrators included wives and children of slain soldiers.

“We are here, alongside our wives and children, and the widows of late military personnel and veterans who died in service, some of whom died fighting Boko Haram terrorists,” he said.

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