‘Nigeria is Gradually Returning to Pre-pension Reform Era’

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Ebere Nwoji

A pioneer board member of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) and a member of the FolaAdeola’s presidential Committee that initiated the introduction of pension reform in Nigeria, Mr. Ivor Takor, has said that Nigeria is gradually returning to the pre-pension reform era, where retired public servants and pensioners were not sure when their retirement benefits and pensions would be paid.

This is coming on the heels of a recent assertion by a retiring teacher in Lagos State that retired teachers in the state receive their lump sum payment from their Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), two years after retirement.
The duo said this was caused by the failure of government to pay accrued rights of workers under the old Defined Benefit Scheme to PenCom for onward transfer to their Pension Fund Managers (PFAS) as well as government’s failure to remit its part of contributions to workers’ Retirement Savings Acciount(RSA).

The federal government, according to PenCom, has outstanding N20 billion to pay as accrued rights of its workers, who migrated from the old Defined Benefit Scheme to the current CPS.

Until this is transferred to their various RSAs, their retirement benefit cannot be paid completely.
Takor, who is currently the Executive Director of Centre for Pension Right Advocacy (CPRA), said since the regime of President MuhammaduBuhari has from the on set,shown interest in the welfare of workers by releasing bail out fund to pay outstanding salaries of workers, it is now time for retired and retiring federal public servants to be bailed out by their employer, which is the federal government.

The “bailout” of these categories of public servants has to take the form of immediate remitance into the RSA of employees of federal public servants all the arrears of pension contributions of the employees and that of their employer, which is federal government, with the appropriate interest.

A failure to remit the arrears contributions, amounts to noncompliance with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2014 by the government. It also amounts to rubbing federal public servants by their own employer”.
Continuing, he said: “Secondly, the government should make sufficient payment into the Retirement Benefits Bond Redemption Fund Account in the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that retiring federal public servants are paid their retirement benefits as at when due in line with the objectives of the CPS.

In doing the aforesaid, the government will only be meeting up with its obligations in line with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2014 and not a bailout”, he stated.

Takor, whose organisation has as its objectives advancing the rights of pensioners through advocacy; promote a fiscally responsible pension administration system through advocacy and workers/pensioners education and rendering legal advice and assistance to indigenous pensioners, urged federal government not to be a “Father Christmas” by paying outstanding salaries of states government workers, while at the same time failing in her legal and moral obligations to her own employees.

He urged government to show the moral and political will to implement the Pension Reform, which from a pension deficit of N2trillion, has been able to accumulate an investable fund of about N5 trillion, by complying with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2014.