Military veterans have threatened to picket the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Headquarters on November 6, 2023, over their outstanding arrears from the consequential minimum wage during former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration.The veterans are also demanding an end to the disparity in pensions and a new template for the payment of the Security Debarment Allowance.T
he retired military men had picketed the ministries of finance, defence, and the National Assembly in 2022 to press home their demands.After the protest, the then Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.), on January 9, 2022, begged the ex-servicemen to sheathe their swords, stressing that their protest was sending a wrong signal to the international community.The veterans then suspended their protests.
In a notice sent to members of the veteran community, affected ex-servicemen were urged to gear up for another round of massive protests.In the notice by the spokesperson for the Coalition of Concerned Veterans, Abiodun Durowaiye-Herberts, the veterans said apart from the payment of the SDA, other demands were not met.
Durowaiye-Herberts noted that the amortised payment of the SDA had rendered the money useless.He added that the veteran community had demanded a new payment template from the Ministry of Defence as well as meeting their other demands
Durowaiye-Herberts said letters sent to the Minister of Defence, Abubakar Badaru, and the Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawelle, seeking their attention were snubbed.
He said, “Distinguished comrades and members of the veterans community, this is to announce the lifting of the ban on our peaceful protest, which we suspended late last year.
“Topmost on the list of our demands include a new and reasonable template and payment of outstanding Security Debarment Allowance at once or twice, and disparity in pension and other outstanding accruable arrears from the consequential minimum wage during the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
“It is worthy of note that one of the first things we did when the ministers were sworn in was to extend an olive branch in written letters (twice) to both HMoD and HMoSD as a diplomatic move, but we have yet to hear from them.”
He said since the concerned authorities had refused to meet their demands and snubbed opportunities presented by the coalition, they were left with no option but to ground activities at the Ministry of Defence and DHQ.
“If they won’t have a dialogue with us in a mutual way, then we certainly will get their attention on the street, and the time to act is now! We cannot sit back and watch our sensibility being toyed with.
“The bugle is about to be blown! That’s the language they always want to hear. A new and reasonable template and payment at once or twice! Disparity in pensions and others. This is non-negotiable! If the economy is going to sink the country, let us all sink together. Our protest will run under the hashtag Let Veterans Breathe,” the statement added.
The Ministry of Defence spokesperson, Henshaw Ogbubike, could not be reached for comment as of the time of filing this report.