11 Jan Nigeria: “Unfulfilled Sacrifice: Retired Nigerian Soldiers Rally in Oyo, Demanding 44-Year Unpaid Pensions”
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
In a poignant display of frustration, hundreds of retired Nigerian soldiers, who valiantly defended the nation during the 1966 Civil War, took to the streets of Ibadan, Oyo State capital, demanding unpaid pensions that have been withheld for a staggering 44 years. Armed with placards bearing impassioned messages, these ex-servicemen voiced their disillusionment, questioning the fairness of their plight after sacrificing blood in defense of their country.
The National Coordinator of the retirees, Cpl. Babawande Phillip (retd), spoke out about the distressing situation at the state headquarters in Agodi-Gate, Ibadan. Expressing the most painful aspect of their predicament, he lamented that while those perceived as enemies during the civil war had received payment from former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the veterans who sustained bullet wounds defending the nation were left to languish in pain and sorrow.
“For the past 44 years, we have been deprived of our pension rights. In 2015, we did capturing in Abuja where all of us were issued genuine certificates acknowledging us as retired soldiers. But, since then, we have been waiting,” shared Phillip. He highlighted the irony that Biafran soldiers, who were once adversaries, had been compensated, leaving those who fought for the country in a state of neglect.
The retirees, grappling with health issues and financial woes, issued a plea to the Federal Government, Chief of Army Staff, Senate, and House of Representatives in December 2023. However, to date, their appeals have gone unanswered. Phillip emphasized that their intention is not to cause trouble but to seek attention. Warning of potential escalation, he stated, “If no one attends to us, all my members will be brought to all the Federal Government roads in Oyo State and create scenes.”
Among the heart-wrenching stories shared was that of an 81-year-old physically challenged retired soldier, Mr. Rafiu Olabamiji, who has been blind since 2004, having lost his wife and children. The widows, next of kin to deceased soldiers, Mrs. Racheal Adejumo and Elizabeth Adedayo, expressed their anguish, questioning the fairness of former President Obasanjo’s selective compensation.
In the face of this unfolding tragedy, the retirees plead for assistance, urging President Tinubu to alleviate their suffering. Their struggle not only exposes the bureaucratic lapses in addressing veteran issues but also underscores the disparities in compensating those who served their nation. The plight of these retired soldiers serves as a stark reminder of the unmet obligations and challenges faced by those who dedicated their lives to defending their country.