The Executive Secretary of the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria, (PenOp), Ms. Susan Oranye, has said industry strategic direction is to ensure that over 20 million Nigerians are signed up to the 10 years old contributory pension scheme in Nigeria.
According to Oranye, the number of those who have signed up to the scheme currently stood at 6.9million nationwide and this figure has contributed N5.3trillion so far.
Making this disclosure at the 2016 Workers’ Celebration at Onikan Stadium in Lagos, Oranye stated that contrary to the N20trillion being touted as the total contribution, the actual contribution from 6.9 million employees across the country stands at N5.3trillion.
According to her, there has been marginal growth since May 1 last year and there is still a lot to be done by encouraging Nigerians to see the benefit of pension at retirement. “As at first quarter of the year, the total fund was N5.3trillion. Since May last year till now the industry has grown and that is an indication that workers are paying pension in preparation for their retirements. People understand the important of a pension that is why they are joining the contributory pension.” She said.
Commenting on the numbers, Oranye said: “There is a lot of work to be done because we have 6.9 million people as contributors. This is a drop in the ocean when you consider the population of the country though we have progressed but we are aware that there is still work to be done, if we need to reach N60trillion mark.”
Speaking on the dignity of labour, the PenOp boss said “There is dignity in labour, Nigerian workers deserve to still have their financial dignity in retirement also’. Something can be said for the independence you enjoy when you have a steady pension coming in to help maintain a decent standard of living for your loved ones when you retire.”
While speaking on the essence of maintaining a retirement saving account as well as joining the Contributory Pension Scheme, Oranye contributors can regularly update their account such as to change of contact address, telephone and other key information that might hinder payment of monthly check.
“It is mandatory to inform your PFA 6 months before retirement so that your benefits can be paid on time, adding that one can access 25per cent of his or her RSA balance if one is out of job for 4 months,” she said.
On withdrawal, contributors can withdraw up to 50per cent balance of lump sum upon retirement.
Highlighting on the effect of the current economic situation on the scheme, Oranye said she does not want to be a pessimist. According to her “it can only get better. The Nigerian economy is going through a bad parch,” she lamented adding that “but they usually say after the night fall, the sun comes out. So the growth may not be as good as we may have wanted because of the current economic situation with retrenchments and businesses going out.”
She however said it is important to believe it will get better and once it get better the industry will blossom much more than it was growing because once things are put in place as the government have said, the economy will grow in leaps and bound hence the effect on businesses within the economy.
“This will have an effect on the employment and as long as the businesses within the economy thrive and people are working everyday there will be important of pension,” she said.
Incidentally, the industry has already set agenda to grow the contributory base to approximately 20 million by 2025. Oranye who owes this to improved employment in the country said that the industry is buoyed for a double figure in contributory base in the next 2 years.
“The industry strategic direction is the 10 years primary focus. In 2025, we will be hoping to raise the number of contributors to 20million. We can say by 2017 or 2018 we would have doubled the figure. We are optimistic and for that to happen the employment rate really need to settle,” she said.