Statement from the Desk of the Retired Members of Nigeria Arm Forces (REMENAF) National Chairman and the President of Coalition of Concerned Veterans (CCV). The statement is in responses to numerous questions being asked by members of the veterans community in reaction to the communiqué at the end of the meeting with the Honorable Minister of Defence (HMOD).
Please, I would want someone to tell me the reason the protests were planned. Was it not because:
(1) We did not understand why the generality of the veterans were not considered in the payment of Debarment Allowance.
(2) The Minister did not respond to our letters requesting for audience with him where he was expected to receive our grievance over being excluded in the payment of the Security Debarment Allowance (SDA).
(3) We wanted to demand for immediate payment of the balance of 3 months arrears of the harmonization.
(4) We needed to know why the Minimum Wage has not been actualized for the veterans.
(5) We needed to demand for improved NHIS services.
All issues above were thoroughly addressed and agreements reached as follows:
(1) The Debarment initially was instituted as a motivation tool for “serving” personnel in order to boost their morale for the fight against insurgency. However, after due deliberations it was accepted that every veteran is entitled to it and Mr President will be duly appraised to waive the legal language of time just like he did for the harmonization. But naturally, we should expect it broken into installments. Is that not a substantial movement from uncertainty to promised action? Is that an achievement or not? Is the reason for protesting not addressed? If not, tell me your justified grounds for protest? Against who and for what?
( 2) That the Minister did not call us to talk to us. Now he has. Not just us, but the whole gamut of reps of serious associations. He gave the explanations we needed and confirmed that we stand included. Not just that, he explained his next steps with the C-in-C. He said the President is favorably disposed to anything that is welfare for vets because it is greater motivation for serving personnel.
(3) Payment of balance of 3 months arrears. These were paid even before the Conference. So, what is the protest to address here?
(4) Minimum wage arrears were only applicable to income earners that had a differential between N30,000 and N18,000. No service personnel serving or retired was earning below N30,000. So, no arrears were accruable. The consequential adjustments in percentages per rank structure were so minimal and would translate to inconsequential amounts. The military waited for the civilian pay structure to be completed so that the military pay structure would now be designed to maintain the same gap per rank that existed between soldiers and civilians. That memo with the proposed structure has already been submitted to the Defence Head Quarters DHQ. Approval is expected to be automatic and activation will also come as arrears. More funds than the meagre consequential adjustments would have to be given to us. We did not know this before. So, we agitated. Now we know. What is the reason to protest on this issue now?
(5) NHIS is a continuous process undergoing improvements. Recall that there was a time not too long ago when veterans were not even catered for under the scheme. Now they are. Deficiencies are being improved as the scheme matures. The CDS stated here that there were even categories of treatment and some surgeries that were not covered under the scheme for active personnel. The Services still had to pay for these categories. But we expect more improvements as things develop.
Gentlemen, if these are not achievements to douse every form of tension, then I want to hear what protest is meant to further achieve.
Brig Gen UH Udokwerre (Rtd).
National Chairman REMENAF
President CCV (when CCV is activated by coalition).