Pension Review Magazine
Government of Anambra State has denied reports that it was owing workers salaries, pensions and gratuities or retirees too.
It insisted that a recent report which listed Anambra as one of the states owing arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities irrespective of the release of the second tranche of the Paris Club refund was untrue and misleading.
A press release by the state’s Information and Communications Strategy commissioner, Mr Tony Nnachetta which was made known in Awka stated that Anambra State was not owing workers’ salaries, pensions or gratuities as the report had alleged.
The release said, “On the contrary, since the inception of the Obiano administration, Anambra has been more alive to its obligation to workers including retirees and pensioners.
“It is on record for instance, that in year 2015, when the nation’s economy was sliding into recession, Anambra was the only state in the federation that increased the salaries of its workers. It is also a known fact that since the inception of the Governor Willie Obiano administration in Anambra State, workers’ salaries have never waited one day longer than the scheduled 25th day of every month when every employee of the government receives their salary alert.”
Obiano administration has remained particularly attentive to the plight of workers, while recalling that four months after assuming office, Governor Obiano paid the arrears of pension and gratuity amounting to N940m owed Local Government pensioners in the state.
He said that Obiano had followed the payment up with the clearance of the N1.9bn arrears of salaries owed Water Corporation and ANSEPA staff by the past administration for 8 years.
He added that, “Similarly, retirees of National Light, the state’s newspaper publishing house whose pensions had been in arrears since the state was created 26 years ago were paid just last week.
“It is in this tradition of humane treatment of the workers, that Governor Obiano has promised to increase the salaries of Anambra workers next year once the Anambra State House of Assembly approves the 2018 Budget.”
He said it is in appreciation of all the friendly gestures of the Obiano administration towards workers, that members of the organized Labour in the state have unanimously endorsed the governor’s second term bid, during the activities marking this year’s celebration of the Workers’ Day.
WORKERS that have enlisted into the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, are now about 10 million, just as pension cash inflow is now at N7 trillion. Speaking during the launch of Radix Pension Managers in Lagos, the Group Chairman, Radix, Mr. Vincent Maduka, said: “The entire list of people on the pension scheme on the pension commission level is now 10 million Nigerians, whereas the potential is past 30 percent of all Nigerians.
When you realised that the total budget for Nigeria this year is N7.44 trillion, but the pension market this year is N7 trillion and we are talking of having captured only a small portion of the entire possible market today, the informal sector where there is so much activities and money is yet to be captured in this market.” Commenting on activities of the scheme, the chairman, Board of Directors, Skye Bank Plc, Mohammed K. Ahmad, said: “It’s important that institution within the pension industry, continuously review their operations and ensure they provide the necessary service that will guarantee pensioners their benefits when due.” He also said that, as at today, pension is the largest institutional investor in the country with about N7 trillion in asset. He stated: “73 percent of the pension funds are invested in Federal Government securities, in other word, Treasury bill, Treasury certificate and Treasury bond.” Radix Pension Manager, (formerly IGI Pension Fund Managers Limited) was incorporated in 2008, as a subsidiary of Industrial and General Insurance (IGI) Plc, an insurance company in Nigeria. In February 2017, Radix Capital Partners Limited, a licensed boutique investment banking firm, acquired majority share interest in the company.
Audu Garba, a driver to the late Commander of Physical Training Corps, Lit Col Bukar Sukar Dimka, has appealed to the Federal Government and the Army headquarters to release his entitlement.
Audu, a sergeant with the Nigerian Army was compulsory retired from the military in June 1976 along with others as a result of the role of his principal, Dimka in the abortive February 13 coup against the government of General Murtala Ramat Mohammed
According to the letter of their discharge, the affected officers were “compulsorily retired following their knowledge of the coup”.
The letter, which was signed by one Col J. I Oncia on behalf of the Brigadier Adjutant General, the Provost Marshal was directed to release the affected officers for de-kitting before their discharge.
The letter also directed the Provost Marshal to obtain “permanent addresses of the officers at which they expect to get their gratuities and pension…”
However, 41 years after, Audu said he is yet to get either of the entitlement.
Lasaco Assurance Plc has resumed the underwriting of Annuity policies that would make beneficiaries earn salaries for a certain period after leaving office.
The insurance company re-started the annuity businesses in collaboration with its appointed experts, First Pension Custodian (FPC), having obtained the nod of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) to again take on the underwriting of the product across the country
This means the public can now invest a lump sum with the company with which a monthly stream of income can be generated and paid to them for a fixed period.
National Pension Commission (PENCOM) had in November last year placed a short embargo on the business against insurance operators in the country, demanding them to transfer their Annuity asset holdings to Pension Funds Custodian, lifted the restriction on some of the operators after they had met the conditions for doing so.
LASACO Managing Director, Mr Segun Balogun, who spoke on the development, said his company achieved the feat through prudent management and strict adherence to professionalism.
The General Manager, Life Operations of the company, Mr Dimeji Olona, explained that the company’s Annuity product was designed to provide security and peace of mind for the holders as it is meant to ensure regular payments in retirement for the duration of the owner’s life.
Pensioners have asked the embattled Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, to make full disclosures to the public on his findings on pension thieves when he chaired the Task Force
A pensioner, Hassan Umar, said since Maina’s family said he is not a fraudster and only a victim of the good work he did as Chairman of the Task Force, Maina owes Nigerians full disclosures on his findings during that national assignment.
“He should be courageous and tell us the truth. He should name the thieves and clear his name for posterity,” Umar said.
Another pensioner, who retired from the federal civil service, Mr. Boniface Ogadinma, said Maina should have the courage to give Nigerians all the answer they seek.
Mr. Ogadinma said Maina can use the social media to engage Nigerians and pensioner on those who stole money kept in the nation’s coffers for pensioners.
“The young man seems to know a lot. Let him speak up now. This is the time to open the hornet’s nest,”
The relationship between pensioners and many state governments in Nigeria is far from cordial as both have locked horns over retirement benefits.
This development is largely due to dwindling revenues which the federal government had in two different occasions bailed out the states using Paris Club refunds.
However, pensioners and Nigeria Labour Congress have demanded accountability over the bailout funds.
In Edo State, local government pensioners recently ran out of patience, staged protests and obstructed vehicular and human traffic in Benin City over.
In a statement, the state government said a “phased approach” had been adopted to clear the backlog of pension N2.1 billion has been disbursed to offset the bills from January to September, 2017.
In Abia State, the state government had to explain the challenge of meeting retirement obligations despite Paris Club refunds of N16.3 billion.
The state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, recently revealed that the state committed N11.6 billion to service workers and pensioners wage bill.
He said his government had discovered “sharp practices” in the pension payment system, including about 131 teachers who were supposed to have retired but had been paid N496m.
“The government is determined to convert the monies paid them as either pension or gratuity due them in future,” he said.
In Osun, pensioners protested during the burial ceremony of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s late mother in the state.
The state government revealed that it had deployed N5.1 billion out of the N6.3 billion second tranche Paris club refund for the payment of salaries and pensions.
In Ebonyi, Pensioners recently made allegations of malpractices in the payment of pensions.
A government statement indicated that Gov David Umahi has already ordered a probe into the allegations and this is coming shortly after he suspended the implementation of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
Umahi blamed non-payment of pension and gratuities in the state on “criminal padding and inflation of pensions and gratuities.”
Meanwhile, in Delta State, the Association of Contributory Retirees (ACR) protested over owed arrears of pensions and retirement benefits.
A statement signed by the ACR Chairman, Ajueitsi Ovwiroro, accused the state government of defaulting in payment of various entitlements, since 2007.
Ovwiroro stated that as at 2014, the CPS had generated over N18 billion with workers contributing N13.7 billion and yet workers retire without promptly accessing their benefits.
The senior citizens demanded an irrevocable standing payment order (ISPO) to the accountant general of the Federation for the dedication of N500 million monthly from the state revenue allocation to clear the debt.
In Benue State, pensioners recently protested in demand of their 10 months’ pension arrears.
The Presi¬dent, Concerned Benue Civil Pensioners, Mr Peter Kyado, said the state government had failed to clear pension liabilities with bailout funds. Kyado expressed worry that the state still pays N800 as monthly pension and called for harmonisation.
Ironically, despite paucity of funds in states, they are still reluctant to implement the CPS.
Data from National Pension Commission (PenCom) show that 10 states are yet to pass bill on CPS while out of the 26 states that have adopted it, less than 10 have fully implemented the new scheme.
Some states are even still frivolously paying pension to ex-elected government officials, such as governors, even as they are receiving salaries as senators and Ministers as recently alleged by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).