New Telegraph

Ensuring Security Of Pensions Fund

In spite of the recent assurance given by the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, that the President Bola Tinubu-led government has no intention to borrow money from the nation’s pensions fund, the sheer illegality and absurdity of the idea underscores the imperative of enacting laws to protect it – that is from being accessed and used for functions outside the ambit of the law.

Media reports on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 claimed that the government intended to make the borrowing to raise funds for housing, infrastructural development and job creation. But the public outrage which trailed the piece of news was enough to inform a reversal of the idea, if indeed someone had tinkered with the idea.

In a recent letter jointly signed by the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, and the Deputy President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Tommy Okon, and sent to the Ministry of Finance, both warned against the Federal Government’s intention to utilise N19.66 trillion of the Fund for what it was not meant for.

Expressing deep shock that nearly 70 % of the entire pension fund has already been spent by the government without due consultation with relevant stakeholders, including labour, it has described the decision as unacceptable to them.

Similarly, the labour leaders have raised eyebrows over the ambiguity and lack of clarity, with previous borrowings and vowed to lead Nigerian workers in the mother of all protests should the government turn deaf ears to the words of warning.

The said letter was copied to the Secretary to the Federal Republic Government, the Ministry of Labour, the Head of the Senate Committee on Labour, the Department of State Security (DSS) and the National Security Adviser.

The position of both the NLC and TUC is valid, based on the dictates of the extant laws, specifically in relation to the NPF.

For instance, the Pensions Act signed on July 1, 2014 expressly provides that the employers, with at least 15 employees, are required to participate in a contributory pension scheme for their employees.

The minimum contribution under the Act is 18 % of the monthly emolument (with a minimum of 10% by the employer and 8% by the employee). Notably, the Pension Reform Act, 2014 made express provision for the uniform contributory scheme for

Perhaps, they have to learn from Germany, which recently hiked pensions fund by 4.57% nationwide, while also sustaining its prompt payment

both the public and private sectors in Nigeria, and related matters. In fact, according to Sub-section (d) of the Act the salutary aim of the fund is to assist imprudent individuals by ensuring that they save part of their monthly earnings, in order to cater for their livelihood during old age.

The source of concern therefore, is the unfeeling act on the part of our political helmsman ever thinking of violating these provisions, worse still under an inclement condition of the prevailing harsh economic situation in the county.

The implications are grave; igniting deep apprehension and unrest amongst the diligent, dedicated workers who have refused to steal from the public and private coffers but are now faced with lean resources to cushion their livelihood in old, after retirement.

According to the National President of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), Godwin Abumisi, speaking in Abuja on the troubling issue as reported on February 12, 2024 no fewer than 1,500 of its members have died over the past year.

The preventable tragedy resulted from the criminal neglect of their wellbeing by the powers that be which resulted in some debilitating diseases.

It is indeed, horrifying to learn that states such as Kwara, Niger and Kogi pay pensions as low as N3,000, N4,000 and N5,000 monthly in that order! While that of Katsina is N7,000, Gombe and Jigawa pay N8,000 and N12,000 respectively.

Related issues of low pensions paid to retirees or worse still, the deliberate delay with regards to the payment of such funds in Enugu and some other South-eastern states is disheartening.

This is a gross insult to their sensibilities, considering the dire situation of the economy and the fact that some of the governors, as well as some lawmakers are living large, across the country.

Beyond the dismissal by Edun, of the insinuation of a plan by the Federal Government to borrow pension funds, governments at all levels should put in place strong policies to boost the workers’ welfare as priority.

That should not be compromised. Perhaps, they have to learn from Germany, which recently hiked its pension fund by 4.57% nationwide, while also sustaining its prompt payment. The time for the policy makers and those who implement them to look inwards and make sacrifices for the economy to thrive and to reverse the drift from insecurity of pension funds is now.

Read Previous

Tribunal Delivers Judgment On Kogi Guber Monday

Read Next

Abia: Assessing Otti’s First Year In Office