The National Pension Commission (PenCom) hosted a Sensitisation Conference for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) at an event held in Abuja. Aisha Dahir-Umar, the Director General of PenCom, opened the Conference with an address which underscored the importance of promoting continuous interaction and information flow between PenCom and CSOs on recent developments in the pension industry.
The event, which marked the third in its series, aimed to highlight the critical roles CSOs play as a link between government agencies and the public. PenCom recognises the value of enlightenment and engagement with civil society for a more robust and inclusive future pension industry.
Significantly, the Director General’s address highlighted the robust growth in the pension industry in 2023 despite economic challenges. Pension assets recorded a significant increase of N2.08 trillion, rising from N14.99 trillion at the end of 2022 to N17.07 trillion as of July 2023. Moreover, the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) has secured over 10 million Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holders.
The above notwithstanding, the pension industry still holds vast growth potential, especially as more Nano, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (NMSMEs) join the CPS through the Micro Pension Plan (MPP). The MPP’s key objective is to curb old-age poverty by enabling participants to contribute during their working years. The MPP fosters long-term savings to provide financial security during retirement. The Commission actively supports Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) in devising incentives such as health insurance for MPP participants.
The Conference featured three informative presentations that shed light on various aspects of the pension industry. The first presentation, “Enhancing Customer Service in the Contributory Pension Scheme: PenCom’s New Strategy Plan,” emphasised the Consumer Protection Department’s (CPD) role in ensuring effective customer service in the pension sector. The CPD protects RSA holders’ rights and seamless service delivery.
The second presentation, “Enhancing Service Delivery to Improve the Micro Pension Plan’s Prospects in Nigeria,” underscored the drive to enhance service delivery in micro pensions. The objective is to make pension plans more inclusive, accessible, and beneficial for individuals in the informal sector and other underserved populations. This initiative strives to bolster financial security during retirement, promote financial inclusion, and contribute to overall economic development while ensuring efficiency, transparency, and a customer-centric approach in micro pension plans.
Lastly, the third paper, “RSA for Mortgage Financing: A Beacon of Hope for the informal sector,” detailed how RSA holders can access up to 25% of their RSA balance as an equity contribution to procure residential houses through a mortgage. This initiative aligns with the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014, stipulating that pension assets can be utilised for residential mortgage equity contributions. PenCom has diligently developed and issued guidelines to PFAs to facilitate this process. From March 2023 to September 2023, 377 RSA holders accessed N4.74 billion to pay equity contributions for their residential mortgages.
During the Conference, participants expressed satisfaction with the performance of PenCom, commending the organisation for its exceptional supervision and regulation of the pension industry in Nigeria. Their appreciation underlined the pivotal role of PenCom in fostering a trustworthy and sustainable pension system in the country. The positive sentiment shared by participants evidenced the organisation’s steadfast commitment to upholding the highest standards of regulation and supervision, ultimately advancing the interests of pensioners and the nation.
In conclusion, the Sensitisation Conference for Civil Society Organisations organised by PenCom proved enlightening, shedding light on the thriving pension industry and showcasing transformative initiatives to secure the financial future of millions in Nigeria. The engagement stressed the importance of collaborative efforts between government agencies and civil society to achieve a prosperous and secure retirement.