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New Pension Scheme: What Hope For Retirees?

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With the different re
ports emanating from the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), there is palpable fear and doubt among Nigerian workers and retirees over the payment of their pensions. Reports from various quarters are beginning to cast fears in the minds of the retirees and those who are still in service. This is because Federal Government that introduced the scheme has not shown commitment in the process of ensuring its success while employers in both private and public sectors are not complying with the pension contributory policy.
The National Pension Commission (PENCOM) recently decried the non-compliance of pension contributory policy by employers in both the private and public sectors. According to a report released on its website, teh commission said only 73,403 companies have so far embraced the contributory pension scheme and that 43,913 of the companies have largely complied with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act.
The commission added that seven million employees working in the public and private sectors have registered with Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) for the management of their pension contributions. The report stressed that the numbers of companies whose employees had so far registered is 73,403. Of this number, 43,918 employers have complied, whereas the remaining 29,485 are yet to comply.
The commission said since the Pension Regulatory Administration (PRA) 2004 became law, the Federal Government has yet to comply with the reduction of 18 per cent contributory pension of workers.
Percentage figure, according to the commission, was revisited upward from the PRA 2004 where both the employers and employees contribute 7.5 per cent each to add up to 15 per cent monthly, while the PRA 2014 was revisited upward to 18 per cent, yet the federal government is not complying with the reduction and remittance to the Pension Fund Administration on behalf of the workers in the federal service.
The 2014 Pension Reform Act stipulates that, “The contribution for any employee to which this act applies shall be made in the following rates relating to his monthly emoluments: a minimum of 10 per cent by the employer and 8 per cent by the employee”.
The PENCOM, in its one decade of operation as the regulator of pension industry has made reasonable achievements in alleviating the sufferings of Nigerian workers and making Nigerians see retirement as another phase of life that should not be feared. The challenge of getting some employers to be sincere enough to ensure that their employees enjoy the benefit of the contributory pension scheme as well as ensuring that the interest of many retirees who migrated from the old scheme are protected in the contributory pension scheme is staring the commission in the face and also affecting the retirees, thereby giving less hope to prospective retirees.
The Tide investigations show that many pensioners and workers are still not happy with the contributory pension scheme as they are at present lamenting that the commission and the various governments seem not to be mindful of their sufferings. Findings by The Tide show that in 10 years of experimenting the CPS, many private and public sector employers only deduct and remit 7.5 per cent of their workers’ salaries but fail to contribute their own 7.5 per cent to the employees’ Retirement Savings Account as stipulated by the law. There are also findings that till date, some employers deduct workers’ salaries but do not remit same to their RSAs.
However, PENCOM had some years ago sanctioned some employers for the negligence but current indications are that they have gone back to their usual way and their employees have made up their minds to accept things as they are to save their jobs. Some workers are demanding for the refund of their salaries so far deducted.
A cross-section of civil servants interviewed in Rivers State want the state governor, Barrister Nyesom Wike to phase out the Contributory Pension Scheme and refund the monies so far deducted from their salaries, saying it is a fraud on the workforce. They appealed to the governor to repeal the law establishing the scheme as it was an imposition on the workers by former Governor Chibuike Amaechi who allegedly failed to fulfil the government’s part of the scheme.
In separate interviews, many civil servants stressed the need to face out the contributory pension scheme, describing it as fraudulent on the workforce.
According to one of them, a director in the state civil service, the labour should  approach the Rivers State government to demand the reversal scheme should be reversed to the old one and give people what is due them on retirement. The director, who preferred to be anonymous, was of the opinion that government should cancel the whole idea as it has failed from the very first day it was conceived while the monies so far deducted should be refunded.
Another civil servant, Friday Badon asked the state government to repeal the contributory pension scheme by sending a bill to the State Assembly for the revocation of the law establishing it in the state, saying “as it is now, we don’t know what is happening and the scheme is not favourable to workers. Badon advised the government to continue with the old pension scheme, pointing out that a situation whereby workers’ pension is being contracted does not augur well for the workers.
In his own view, Mr Nwachukwu Igwe said, “we have been kept in the dark as regards the operation and success of the scheme and don’t know how efficient the scheme will be.”
Mr Godwin George in his own comment said.” Please, they should reimburse me my money they have deducted, I don’t need the scheme.” George, an accounts officer, alleged that the government is not remitting its part of the counterpart funding, pointing out that in Nigeria, such scheme cannot be well managed. He appealed to the present Rivers State government to revert to the old pension scheme which makes it easier for retirees to access their pensions as at when due and promptly too.
Also speaking to The Tide, Mrs Josephine Amadi said; “they should refund me my money because we are not sure of the contributory pension scheme which is like the National Housing Scheme that does not benefit workers”. The pension administrators are using our money to do  business and at the end, we will not benefit from it and we will be short-changed.”
She called on the government to look into the issue and save the state civil servants from the impending trauma they will face in the future.
Another civil servant, Mr Donatus Nwiueh in his reaction, said that government should abolish the contributory pension scheme in Rivers State as workers were forced to go into it by the immediate past administration.
As he put it, “the government is not contributing its quota and the money deducted from workers’ salaries are not being remitted into their Retirement Savings Accounts. All the monies so far deducted should be refunded.”
“The last administration lured us into the scheme, so this administration should rescue us by asking the pension managers to refund our money so that we go back to status quo”.
The Rivers State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Chika Onuegbu in an interview with The Tide called for the repeal of the scheme in the state in order to avoid short-changing the worker Onuegbu said government should quickly review the state pension laws to conform to the Pension Reform Act 2014, adding that the state pension law as amended was essentially a domestication of the 2004 Pension Reform Act now repealed and replaced with the 2014 Pension Reform Act which came into effect from July 2014.
He noted that the contributory pension scheme in the state is totally being abused as many deductions from the workers’ salaries were not remitted into their Retirement Saving Accounts.
“The congress is constrained to take such decision to call on the state government to repeal the pension laws due to the capricious manner the subsisting pension law in the state is being administrated across ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). The union will not accept the imposition of pension administrators on the civil servants by the state government,” Onuegbu stressed.

 

Shedie Okpara

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City Crime

Group Tasks C’River, Ebonyi On Harmonious Boundary Demarcation

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A non-governmental organisation, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, has charged Governors of Cross River and Ebonyi States to work with their community leaders on demarcating the boundary portion in the parcel of land that has occasionally triggered crises between the two states.
The Executive Director of the group, Mrs Emem Okon, dropped the charge while delivering a speech at the capacity building/training workshop on community leadership held at Transcorp Hotel, Calabar.
The training programme, which was co-sponsored by OXFAM and Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre was organised to build capacities of opinion leaders and leaders of thought from two states of Cross River and Akwa Ibom to educate participants on how to impact positively on their immediate communities.
Okon, who spoke before the participants stated that, for leaders to remain influential, they must be visionary in a manner that can accommodate different shades of opinions brought before them by their followers.
She urged the community leaders to, at regular intervals, organise skills acquisition programmes for youths in their communities, so that they can become self-reliant enough to fend for themselves.
“As a leader, you must be straight forward, coach others, be visionary, change agent, decision maker, influencer, team player and above all, a peace maker,” Okon enthused.

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FG Engages 70 N-SIP Monitors In Kebbi-Minister

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The Federal Government says it has engaged 70 Independent Monitors to fast track implementation of the National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP) in Kebbi State.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq, disclosed this at the presentation of engagement letters and devices to the monitors, on Monday in Birnin Kebbi.
Umar-Farouq, represented by the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Legal Matters, Aminu Shamaki, said each of the independent monitor was expected to monitor a designated number of beneficiaries of the programme.
She said that each of the monitors would be paid a monthly stipend of N30,000, adding that they must meet up to 80 per cent of their deliverables monthly to be eligible for the stipend.
The engagement letters, she said, clearly articulated the scope of work to include; routine monitoring of all programmes under the N-SIP in their assigned Local Government Area (LGA) and provision of evidence-based report on findings in the field.
She listed other services to include the submission of reports in accordance with the set timelines, attending all trainings and meetings as required by the ministry as well as other duties that may be assigned by the ministry.
“Please be informed that independent monitors are not allowed to assign their responsibilities to third parties. Each monitor will be held accountable by the ministry for the task given to them.
“The ministry reserves the right to disengage an independent monitor for misconduct or non-compliance with set guidelines and directives.
“I hereby urge you all to carry out this assignment with utmost sense of patriotism, diligence and sincerity,” she said.
Umar-Farouq said the N-SIP was created by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 with the mandate of lifting citizens out of poverty through a number of social interventions.
She listed the intervetions to include the Job Creation Programme (N-Power); National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), and Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
The minister said that all the programmes were moved to the ministry in 2019, noting that they were being implemented across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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Group Sues For Unity, Peaceful Coexistence

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A pro-democracy group, ‘Nigeria Peace Project’, yesterday in Abuja stressed the need for peaceful coexistence among the diverse ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria.
The convener of the group, Mr Francis Ako, made the call in an interview with newsmen.
Ako, who emphasised that Nigeria is in dire need of peace and oneness, pointed out that the country can only record rapid development in a peaceful atmosphere.
While advocating stronger synergy among security agencies to tackle insecurity facing the country, Ako urged those involved in criminality to desist from their acts.
According to him, the group will embark on a peaceful rally in all the 774 local government areas across the country to canvass for sustainable peaceful coexistence and unity in the country.
He said that the rally tagged ‘Mega rally for peace’ is scheduled for July 17.
“The “mega rally for peace in Nigeria’’ will serve as a platform for we the youth to demonstrate our determination to support security agencies in the fight against criminality in the country.
“It is a call on youths who are involved in criminality to desist from their acts of kidnapping, rape, armed robbery, killings.
“There will be no meaningful development if we must continue this way thus the need to refrain from such acts.
“No doubt, a house cannot stand if it is divided among itself. Even in friendship, if there is no unity, it cannot thrive. So we need to be united,’’ Ako said.
He urged traditional and religious institutions to intensify efforts in sensitising their subjects to understand the need to embrace peace always.
Ako said that members of the group would be forced to apprehend criminals in their communities and hand them over to the security agencies.
“We are issuing this warning because we know that criminal youths live among us.
“We are giving them from now till December 31 after which we will start operation identify your work.
“And those we find to be of criminal elements, we will apprehend and handover to the police for prosecution,’’ he said.
Ako also cautioned separatist groups to stop the clamour for the break-up of the country.
He said: “those who are clamouring for Nigeria’s break-up should know that nothing will make Nigeria to breakup because Nigeria is indivisible’’.
Ako added that the current insecurity facing the country was preventing investors from coming into Nigeria.
“This is also causing us a lot of job opportunities; investors have refused to come in and invest and this is as a result of the insecurity.
“How can investors come and invest where they cannot guarantee their safety,” Ako said.
He said that the group would sponsor a bill that would provide for the compulsory study of criminality in the country’s tertiary education system.

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