New Pension Scheme: What Hope For Retirees?

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2044
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State

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