Ex-soldiers protest, plan to picket defence ministry Jan 15

Defence-ministry

Some retired military personnel have vowed to picket the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Ministry of Defence on January 15, a day set aside to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day if their outstanding allowances are not paid.

The veterans had on Wednesday morning stormed the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in Abuja to demand immediate payment of their debarment and medical allowances among others.

The ex-soldiers, under the aegis of the Coalition for Concerned Veterans, wielded placards with inscriptions such as, “Review the wide disparity in pay and pension across the ranks of serving and retired personnel” and “We demand upgrade on health scheme to curb elderly diseases” among others.

The group’s spokesperson, Oamien Okhidievbie, said previous efforts aimed at ensuring that their demands were met were rebuffed by the authorities.

 He said, “We have had a series of meetings with the Ministry of Defence and other parties concerned.

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“We were even meant to stage the protest before the #EndSARS protest. We shelved it based on the assurance we received. Till today, our demands have not been met.

“Come January 15, we are going to picket the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Defence should our entitlement be delayed further.

  “How can you not pay a debarment allowance? This is an allowance that discourages a soldier from using his skills against the country. I was in the special forces; I can create bombs among others. But because of discipline, I have decided not to use these skills against the country.

 “The health allowance is just a charade; it only takes care of malaria. I lost my sight while serving in the military. To manage myself, I needed medication.”

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Aliyu Ahmed, assured them that their arrears would be paid.

Ahmed said, “The payment you are referring to is quite heavy. There was no way it could have been paid in 2021.

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“So, what we have done is to include it in the 2022 budget. The Military Pension Board is aware that it is in the budget.

“I want to reassure you that, as the custodian of the budget, as soon as we settle in and start issuing the warrant, you will get your money.”

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