Retirees of the Nigeria Agip Oil Company in Port Harcourt have called on the management of the company to review their monthly pensions, saying it has remained stagnant since 2009.

The retirees, during a protest at the company’s premises in Port Harcourt, blocked the main entrance in the Mile Four axis of Port Harcourt, saying their counterparts in sister firms were enjoying better treatment.

The retirees under the aegis of the Association of Agip Oil Pensioners, NAOC branch also accuse the company of denying their spouses medical care and other welfare services unlike what is obtainable in other sister firms.

The senior citizens numbering over 30 displayed placards with different inscriptions to press home their demands.

Some of the inscriptions on the placards read, ‘Our years of meritorious services to Agip deserve better treatment;’ ‘Agip management increase our pension like other oil companies;’ ‘No Pension increase since 2009 and no welfare plan in place;’ ‘Retirees are living in debt and squalor due to stagnated pension;’ among others.

The protesting pensioners were however prevented by armed soldiers from advancing to the gate of the company.

But undeterred, the protesting elders carried chairs and sat on the road just before the company’s gate, raising their placards to newsmen while the armed soldiers formed a circle around them.

Speaking to newsmen during the protest, the chairman of the association, Elder Sito George-Paul, said since 2009, the company has not reviewed their pension, despite the harsh economic climate and rising inflation, saying the situation has become unbearable for them and their families.

George-Paul further said the association was considering taking legal action to compel the management of the company to act if nothing is done after the protest, pointing out that many of them have health challenges that need money to take care of.

He stated, “I retired in 2014 as a manager in Agip. We are part of the Hydro-Carbon Pensioners Consultative Association. We had an agreement with Nigerian Agip Oil Company like it is in the oil industry that periodically they will be increasing our pension.

“In 2009 they stopped till today, we don’t know why. We have been agitating for a long time and even came out like this once in the past, but they have done nothing while other companies are doing it.

“What is being practiced in all the other oil companies, it is not practiced here. Some of us who retired some six, or seven, years ago are still earning N150,000 a month, which is a far cry to what pensioners in other oil companies get.

“For example, Exxon Mobil and Shell increase their pensions almost yearly. The cumulative increase in Shell from 2022 to this year is about 43 percent of their salaries. Here it is zero. Our spouses are denied medical care, but other companies are having life medicare for their retirees and their spouses.”

Continuing, he said, “So we are here to tell them that it is enough. We can’t take it any longer because it is embarrassing. We have a quarterly meeting of the Hydro-Carbon Industry Pensioners Consultative Association where we compare notes and we from Agip are so ashamed to be called retirees from an oil company.

“So we are telling the world, let Agip also know that we are human beings like others in similar companies. The neglect and indifference on their part is just too much. If the management doesn’t heed our request, we will come and sleep here. We might even be taking them to court so that the matter will be addressed legally.

On his part, Godfrey Elenwon, who is the speaker of Ogboro-Ogbakiri Community Council of Chiefs, said what they are asking is their right following a pension fund established where they are entitled a certain percentage.

He said, “I was the chairman of the pensioners for 11 years. There is an autonomous company, Nigerian Agip Company Close Pension Fund Administrator Limited. How do they get their fund? When you retire, 25 percent of the money is given to you while 75 percent is paid into the Close Pension Fund Administrator Limited, NAOC.

“So the 75 percent is invested, commercial banks borrow them and pay interest monthly. In other words, we are not asking them to give us their money: it is our money, 75 percent of our entitlement, which we have lodged into this company that will be earning income monthly,

“Now to give it to us is a problem. What we got is the paltry interest that they get from the loans they give to commercial banks. The fund started with N32 billion. It is almost N300 billion now. What do they do with that?

Elenwo added, “The dividends should be given to us, I mean the little contribution, the interest. Now they leave us stagnated, 10, 12, 20 years, nothing is added. And you know that in this country prices go up, they don’t come down.

“Tell me what the cost of living index is. How do we sail along? They give you the pension and in two days, it petters away and you go to borrow. It becomes sort of a cycle.”

He alleged that the frequency of deaths among fellow pensioners was on the rise, adding, “The frequency of deaths amongst us is terrible. 12 persons have died, 10 in the mortuary. It is very bitter. So, for us to come here with our poor health, means we have been pushed to the wall. The money we are asking for is our money which they have been investing. So the little dividends that come from it they should give us. So we are asking for our rights.”

When contacted, a Human Resources official in the NAOC, Samuel Owasumor, who the protesters said came to inform them of a meeting with the management, said he was not in a position to speak on the issue.

He stated, “Well, I’m not in a position to speak on it. But I know they had a meeting, but I don’t know the outcome of that meeting.”


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