Pension Review Magazine
The head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, has called on all public and civil servants in the country to key into the three year transformational plan.
She said by working extra hard to correct whatever are bottlenecks plaguing current pension processes. This way, she said, they will not have to suffer what their predecessors are experiencing with the payment of their gratuities and pensions when they retire from service.
She made the call at Tinapa Lakeside hotel Calabar Wednesday when she declared open a 3-day retreat for members of the Project Management Teams for Implementation of the Office of Head of Civil Service of the Federation 2017-2020 Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan
She charged all civil servants to invest their energies to help make the three year reforms become successful to enable the service become efficient and effective.
She emphasised, “If all the civil servants do not work harder and with deeper commitment to ensure the reform strategy work as expected, it might affect you all tomorrow when you also retire. This is the time foe us all to jointly correct the current problems on pension encountered by our predecessors, so that we on retirement and our children do not come to encounter same plight.”
The head of service whom lamented the fate which elderly pensions have to go through cautioned that if present generation persisted in what used to be done, they would no doubt have to go a begging to survive even after several years in service.
She had listed array of initiatives and programmes which reform players and human resources experts in the private sector who have been engaged to drive the 3 year transformational agenda otherwise called 2017-2020 Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan, have marshalled out.
These initiatives will include staff training, development of Enterprise Content Management system as well as improve welfare and benefit packages for Civil Service.
Over 6000 pensioners from the local and state governments in Cross River State have denied receiving a dime from the Federal Government bailout /Paris Club refund, which the state has so far received three times.
But the state Commissioner for Finance, Asuquo Ekpenyong had insisted that, as directed by the Federal Government which released the fund to bail out many states, they had paid many pensioners their gratuities and pensions from the fund.
State chairman of Pensioners Association, Comrade Bassey Bassey Okison who spoke to journalists in Calabar on the plight of his members, called on the commissioner to show proof of such payment to them.
He emphasised: “I speak on good authority that up till today, not even a dime has been paid to any local government pensioner in the name of pension arrears nor gratuity from the bailout/Paris Club refund,” he said.
He said they have made several efforts to appeal to the relevant state authorities to installmentally defray the over N9 Billion accumulated gratuity and pensions due them from 2007 to the present to no avail.
He said the authorities have always been complaining about lack of funds to pay them their gratuity and pensions but that they were surprised that the Federal Government released so much money to the state to clear this backlog of gratuity yet such money has not been used for the purpose meant.
He also stated that about 600 names of local government pensioners were omitted by the consultant engaged by the state during the 2016 personnel audit, adding that they have resolved to occupy every government office if the state did not positively respond to their outstanding pension and gratuities.
“Having exhausted all known means of reaching out to the authorities without result, we have decided to pack our loads and live in all the offices that are responsible for the payment of these entitlements until further notice. This is not a threat.
“We are very serious about this. We are now 6500. All of us have agreed to move into all government offices. We shall cook and bathe in front of those offices. We have given them one month to defray even by installments. We have written to all concerned about our plight and outstanding debts to no avail, which reason we are compelled to take this action,” he said.
He said since Gov Ben Ayade came in, however, he has tried to pay them their pension but that the N9 million had been due before he assumed office.
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has enhanced the pension of existing retirees on programmed withdrawal.
The Federal Government had in November 2017 approved pension enhancement for retirees on contributory pension scheme (CPS) in line with Section 173 (3) of the Constitution, which provides that “pensions shall be reviewed every five years or together with any Federal Civil Service salary review, whichever is earlier.”
Pension Review Magazine published an article which indicated that there was a loophole in the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) if retirees under the scheme were exempted from periodic pension enhancement.
The recent announcement by PenCom that the enhancement has been approved and implemented means that accrued rights of existing pensioners paid into their Retirement Savings Account (RSA) will be periodically reviewed upwards just like their counterparts in the old defined benefits scheme.
However, PenCom said retirees on annuity would not benefit from pension enhancement since their retirement benefits had been moved from their Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) to insurance companies of their choice.
Federal civil service retirees have been unable to get their pension one year after leaving the service due to the inability of the Federal Government to settle backlog of accrued rights.
The last time the government paid accrued rights was in December, 2016, a development that has left retirees who left active service in 2017 unable to access their benefits.
The government released N54 billion to clear part of the backlog of accrued pension rights for the years 2014, 2015, 2016 and the first three months of 2017.
Despite releasing funds to clear the pension arrears of January to March 2017,Pension Review Magazine found that the arrears for the entire 2017 have not been paid.
An ex-civil servant, Mustapha Moriki, wondered why retirees on the contributory scheme who exit active service stay a long time before accessing their retirement benefits.
“Come to our aid because we are suffering,” Moriki appealed to the National Pension Commission (PenCom).
Another retiree, Peter Nkamga, also complained that he was now dependent on his children for survival due to his inability to get his retirement benefits since he retired in 2017.
Nkamga said he could not understand why the Federal Government would not prioritise pension payment.
When contacted, PenCom said it was handicapped on the issue, adding that it would promptly disburse the accrued rights to retirees once the funds are made available by the Federal Government.
However, there are indications that some ex-civil servants who retired before 2017 are still unable to get their retirement benefits.
For instance, a retired civil servant, Ahmed Rufai, told Pension Review Magazine that his pension has not been paid since 2016.
He retired in June 2017 but has been left to eke out a living without his retirement benefits.
Public service workers who migrated to the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) in 2004, shortly before they retired, are entitled to two components of retirement benefits: the contributions accumulated in their Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA) and their accrued rights from the time they joined the service to the time they migrated to the CPS.
Accrued rights are the benefits which the workers who had worked for the government prior to 2004 when the CPS was introduced are entitled to.
So, in addition to the retirees’ contributions from 2004 to date, the Federal Government must pay the retirees their accrued rights before the total benefits can be paid out.
In what appears to be a deliberate policy to ensure that the Federal Government settles the backlog of accrued rights, PenCom directed PFAs not to allow the retirees access to their retirement savings until the government releases the accrued rights component.
The 2004 Pension Reform Act (now amended 2014) provides that if an employee retires at the age of 50 years or more, he or she can have immediate access to the RSA.
The act also says if an employee retires before the age of 50 years due to mental or physical incapacity, he or she can have immediate access to his or her RSA but if an employee retires under the age of 50 years in accordance with the terms and conditions of employment, he or she will not access the RSA until after six months of such retirement if he or she does not secure another employment.
However, findings show that PenCom is worried that unpaid accrued rights dent the image of the CPS and makes the scheme appear like the old system in which pension benefits were delayed.
Kano state chapter of the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) has expressed concerned over delay in payment of November and December 2017 pension allowances to retirees in the state.
This was contained in a communiqués jointly signed by its Chairman and Secretary, (Dr) Kabiru Ado Minjibir and (Dr) Auwalu Mudi Yakasai and issued to newsmen after the congress executive council meeting.
The communiqué said the congress had noticed with dismay that the delay was caused by non-remittance of the 17 and 8 per cents of government and workers’ contributions to the Kano State Pension Trust Funds by some organisations.
The communiqué said, “We are urging organisations that have developed such habit to desist from it, as this can lead to total collapse of the scheme. Failure to comply with the monthly remittance of
deductions as at when due by any organisations may force the congress to apply Section 41 of the 2006 Kano State Pension and Gratuity Law (as amended).”
The congress further condemned the recent cases of underpayment, overpayment, omissions and double payment of workers’ salaries being experiences in the state particularly at the state civil service.
The congress called on the government officials handling payment of salaries to ensure that similar mixed-ups did not occur in the subsequent payment of salaries this year.
“The congress is viewing this scenario as deliberate attempt to jeopardise government’s zeal for steady payment of salary in the state. The congress commended Kano state government for being
up-to-date in the payment of salary and pension allowances.”
Legacy Pension Managers has appointed Mr. Ladi Balogun as the chairman of the Board of Directors.
A statement from Legacy Pension said the firm reorganised the Board and also appointed James Ilori as a non-executive director.
According to the statement, the appointment of Balogun and Ilori to the Board of Legacy Pension Managers occurred after the FCMB Group acquired 60 per cent of the company, raising its interest to 88 per cent.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria, the National Pension Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the transaction in November 2017. The board appointments have also received the approval of the National Pension Commission.”