The Rivers State House of Assembly, yesterday, held a public hearing to reform the pension law of the state, as it assured pensioners that henceforth they will start enjoying their retirement benefits as at when due.
This follows the presentation of an executive bill tagged Rivers State Pension Reform Bill 2019(HA23) to the House, penultimate week.
Speaker of the Assembly, Rt Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, in his remarks, urged the pensioners to have hope in the government, insisting that the Rivers State House of Assembly was duty bound to synergize with the executive to better the lives of the people.
He noted that one of the defects that the bill seeks to address was to make it possible for pensioners to access their pensions even when the government has not contributed theirs.
The Chairman of the Committee on SSG, Head of Service and Pension, Hon. Benibo Anabraba described the bill as a good one that will better the lives of pensioners in the state, and expressed the commitment of the House to making laws for the good of Rivers people and those resident in the state.
Also speaking, Rivers State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Barrister Zachaeus Adango said, with the new law in place, government would no longer bear total responsibility of funding pensions.
“Under the former scheme, government was solely responsible for funding pension, but under this scheme, responsibility and is shared between government and the employees, so you must be prepared to commit your monthly emolument towards saving for your pension,” he said.
The attorney general posited that retirees would only have to earn according to the level of their contribution and the return on their investment.
On her part, Chairperson of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC),Rivers State Council, Comrade Beatrice Itubo, described the bill as a good one, but lamented the failure of government to contribute its own part of the pension, which according to her, constitutes a major challenge in the scheme.
“But what we are seeing is that our leaders have not gotten the political will to implement their own part of the bargain,” Itubo stated.
She also solicited for the implementation of the accrued pension rights for civil servants to make it possible for civil servants who were not in the contributory pension arrangement to, at least, benefit something upon retirement.
Also, a member of the Association of Civil Servants in the state, Comrade Sam Chikwere, who disclosed that over N70billion was being owed pensioners in the state, urged the government to scrap the entire contributory pension scheme.
He said, “because there is no sincerity on the part of government, government lacks the capacity to manage this pension, we are saying that the scheme should be scrapped forthwith”.
A representative of the National Pension Commission, Murtala Mohammed Modibo said the commission, which regulates pension matters in the country, has established an institutional framework to ensure a sound and sustainable pension industry in the country, noting that the commission has engaged states in guiding them in the implementation of pensions operations.
While adding that since government can no longer fund pensions alone, he said that certain amounts should be deducted at source from the salaries of civil servants for pension.
He also lamented the lack of commitment on the part of government towards implementation of the pension law.
FG Moves To Stop Influx Of Illegal Aliens
The Federal Government has promised to put measures in place to end the movement of illegal immigrants into the country to secure the country.
The government stated that the era where aliens easily enter the country with fake travel documents must stop.
The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, according to a statement on Saturday by the Director of Press of the Ministry, Afonja Ajibola, disclosed this when the Director, the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dasuki Arabi visited him.
The statement read, “The Minister assured he is working seriously on efficient ways at securing Nigeria borders; saying a situation where illegal aliens easily find their ways into the country often with fake travel documents has to be stopped. In his view, Nigeria cannot be secured if its borders are not secured”.
The Minister also said the Ministry was ready to partner with the BPSR in proffering effective solutions to the nation’s security challenges, especially in securing the nation’s borders.
“I am ready to actively collaborate with the Bureau of Public Service Reforms to find solutions to our security challenges,” he was quoted as saying.
ECOWAS Condemns Plot To Obstruct Peace In Sierra Leone
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the plot by some individuals to disturb peace in Sierra Leone.
The condemnation is contained in a statement issued by ECOWAS in Abuja, yesterday.
ECOWAS said, “The bloc has learnt, with utter disgust, a plot by certain individuals to aquire arms and disturb the peace and constitutional order in Sierra Leone.
“ECOWAS condemns this act and calls for the arrest and prosecution of everyone involved in the illegality.
“The bloc has always maintained its zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of government.
“We want to reaffirm our commitment to supporting the government and the people of Sierra Leone’s quest to deepen democracy and good governance by consolidating peace and security so as to foster socio-economic development”.
Earlier, the Sierra Leonean Government had declared a 24-hour nationwide curfew in a proactive step to ensure that the peace is not tampered with.
Bad Roads Fuelling Insecurity In N’East -Govs
Worried by the security challenges confronting the region, governors of the North East have resolved to embark on more collaborative efforts among member states to come up with a security architecture design for the region.
The governors noted that bad federal roads are fuelling insecurity in the region and called on the Federal Ministry of Works to follow through with road contracts awarded in the region.
This is contained in a communique issued at the end of the 9th meeting of the forum, held at the banquet hall of the Adamawa State Government House in Yola last Saturday.
According to a statement signed by the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, the forum said there was a need for a robust platform for regional economic development and resolved to work as an entity in strengthening the human capacity and socio-economic development of its people.
The communique read in part, “Forum is continuously disturbed about the poor infrastructural base of the region. More concerned that the federal roads within and between the states in the region have been neglected.
“We call on the Federal Ministry of Works to follow through with road contracts awarded in the region. The poor road network is fuelling insecurity stalling development and making life more difficult for our people in the region.
“Forum notes that the bad federal roads within and between the states are major setbacks to the infrastructural development of the region.
“Forum notes the poor energy situation in the region. To mitigate the situation, Forum resolved to work with Shanghai Electric to construct a 60 MW Coal Power Power Plant in each state of the region.
“Forum decried the lack of modern rail projects in the region and called for repairs on the old gauge rail lines which no longer useful and sustainable technology. Forum calls for inclusion of the region into the Nigerian National Railway Transport Plan using the Modern Guage rail.”
On climate change and environmental degradation, the forum resolved to strengthen its collaboration with all initiatives such as the Great Green Wall and the Global Initiative of Carbon Credit financing.
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