Military officers of Ekiti State origin, who retired voluntarily after the civil war of 1967-1970, have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to begin payment of their pensions, to rescue them from poverty and untimely death.
They lamented that no fewer than 60 of their members out of the 240 had died because they could not afford proper feeding and medical treatment due to unpaid entitlements.
Addressing reporters in Ado-Ekiti yesterday, the ex-officers under the aegis of Voluntarily Retired Military Officers, 1978-1979, Ekiti chapter, urged President Buhari to honour his 2015 pledge to extend payment of pensions to all retired officers who partook in the civil war.
The Publicity Secretary of the ex-officers, Alhaji Bello Oseni, hailed the President for remembering them in 2015 upon assumption of power, after 36 years of neglect by successive military and democratic governments.
He said the President, having been elected in 2015, summoned members to Abuja and instructed the Military Pensions Board to verify their documents, after which they were certified to be legitimate military officers.
“But since then, we have not heard anything. We commend President Buhari for remembering us after four decades of neglect, but we appeal that this pledge should be implemented in due course.
“We started this struggle with 240 members, today we are 180 with about 70 of us nursing severe ailments and only praying to get over them.
“We were at the battlefield for over three years. We fought for the unity of this nation. We kept Nigeria one and we deserve to be taken care of.
“We have no regret serving our fatherland, but we are surprised that those who fought to keep Nigeria one and rescue it from disintegration can be treated this way. Helping us at this stage will send a signal of patriotism to Nigerians, because all we did was out of patriotic spirit.
“But we believe in the integrity of President Buhari. He is a retired military officer with human face. He knows what it means for somebody to fight a civil war. He understands the language of war.
“It was President Buhari’s passionate spirit that spurred him to invite us to Abuja in 2015 as a honour. We plead that he fulfils his promises to us, so that we can reap the fruits of our labour.
“We pray that Nigeria remains one so that the labour of our founding fathers and war heroes, including us, will not be in vain,” Oseni said.