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Lawmakers want FG to offset N400bn pensioners’ backlog

Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau.
Senator Ibrahim Shekarau.

Worried by the huge backlog of accrued rights for retired federal pensioners currently put at about N400bn under the contributory pension scheme, some legislators have told the federal government to prioritize the payment of the pension liabilities.

Following this backlog, all federal government staff who retired as at December 2018 are yet to start receiving their pensions because the accrued rights components of the pension liabilities is also being owed.

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Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, raised the concern at a one-day retreat for the joint committee of establishment and public service of the Senate and the House of Representatives Committee on Pensions in Uyo on Monday.

He said the bulk of the blame for non-funding of the accrued rights rests on the Accountant General of the Federation and the Secretary of the Goverment of the Federation.

He also called on the federal government to immediately constitute the Board of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) as the lack of a Board is limiting the operations of the agency.

In a similar vain, Hon. Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, the Chairman, House Committee on Pensions said the principal actors will soon be summoned to explain why pension liabilities are that huge.

“The two Chambers of the National Assembly have agreed that we will have to invite the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the Accountant General of the Federation, and Secretary of the Goverment of the Federation for them come and tell us why the federal government is not funding the accrued rights of the pensioners because there is a backlog of about N400bn” he assured.

The President of the Pension Funds Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp) Mrs. Aderonke Adedeji noted that the contributory pension scheme is working and must be encouraged.

“For the first time in Nigeria’s history we have a national pension scheme that works. Retirees get paid on a monthly basis, no stories” she said.

“That is not to say that there are no challenges. It behoves on us to, not only protect the gains of the pension reforms, but to also deliberate on ways to make it more efficient in order to capture more Nigerians and enable them benefit from what some contributors are already enjoying,” she said.

Speaking on calls that pension assets should be invested in infrastructure, she cautioned, saying whilst the operators are not averse to that, the investments must be secured and yield profits for the contributors.

“Whilst in principle there is no objection to this, it is extremely important that we bear in mind that these are peoples monies. We have a responsibility to ensure that they are secure.

“They must only be invested in viable and secure instruments that assures that the owners of the funds can access their monies as and when due. Returns also need to be competitive as this is part of the funds used at retirement,” she said.

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