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‘It’s very transparent’ — Stakeholders fault officials seeking exemption from contributory pension scheme

‘It’s very transparent’ — Stakeholders fault officials seeking exemption from contributory pension scheme
August 09
19:01 2022

Stakeholders have faulted government agencies and officials agitating to exit the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).

Last year, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) sought to exit the pension scheme, but the National Pension Commission (PenCom) said the move was unnecessary.

Speaking on a national TV programme aired on Tuesday in Abuja, Bobboi Kaigama, former president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Silva Nwaiwu, national chairman of the Nigeria Union of Contributory Pension Scheme Sector, condemned agitations from some government agencies seeking to be exempted from the scheme.

Kaigama also kicked against the “exemption of permanent secretaries, heads of service, accountant-general of the federation and other top government functionaries”.

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He noted the 2004 Pension Reform Act (PRA), enacted during the Obasanjo administration, was meant to address the problem bedevilling the pension system.

He observed that 18 years down the line, the CPS had accumulated over N14 trillion. 

“This N14 trillion has been plunged into less risky portfolios. It develops the Nigerian economy. There is no system that might not have one or two problems,” he said. 

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Kaigama further pointed out that Section 5(1)(a) of the PRA 2014 was derived from Section 291 of the 1999 Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as amended, which clearly exempts only the military, intelligence and secret service. 

“Section 5 (1)(b) of the PRA 2014 exempted public servants who had three years or less to retire as of 2004 when the CPS was implemented,” he added.

“This is a system that is well novel but very laudable. I have never seen a system in this country that is as transparent as the Contributory Pension Scheme. The only problem we have is the employers. The employee’s portion of the contribution is being deducted at the source and remitted. Some employers don’t remit their own. That’s where we have a problem.”

He said the delay in releasing money for the payment of accrued rights is a major challenge with the CPS, adding that accrued rights are the benefits that retirees are expected to enjoy based on past service rendered before the CPS, which should be added to their RSAs at retirement.

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Kaigama further gave reasons why the federal government should not grant further exemptions to the CPS with the view that yearly budgetary allocations for the payment of pension and retirement benefits are huge. 

“The federal government proposed to spend N577 billion on payments of pension and gratuities in 2022 alone, and exempting any government agency will further increase government’s annual budgets for pension and gratuities,” he said.

“Sometimes, some of the budgetary provisions are not funded. If the budget is not funded 100 percent, those you want to dole out N577 billion will not get it. That is why we are saying the CPS is more stable. You can predict it.”

“Before now, you would go from table to table when you retire, but now you don’t have to go to any desk. Only your details are needed, and your retirement benefits are processed. What we are saying to the government is keep paying accrued rights and keep contributing your portion of the pension monthly as the employee contributes monthly.”

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On his part, Nwaiwu said the CPS is transparent and should be embraced by every responsible government. 

He, however, faulted the take-off of the scheme, which failed to segment workers according to years spent in the civil service for administering pensions.

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“There is nothing wrong with the Contributory Pension System. Any transparent government anywhere in the world will buy into it. The security of funds is very tight and very transparent,” he said.

“We hurried into it unnecessarily. With proper planning, some of the hiccups would have been avoided.”

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