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X-ray the plight of Nigerians and Kwara pensioners

By Lanre Osho | | +2348167398370

It is the wish and dream of every worker to retire gracefully after many years of meritorious service to an employer or organization. But in Nigeria where infrastructure and security are big challenges after retirement, life is difficult when retirees did not save enough during their service years; it is difficult to save because of several family obligations that are not easy to meet.
It is disheartening to see old retirees suffering and living in abject poverty, some even have health challenges and no money to take care of themselves, some die prematurely because of lack of finance take care of themselves.

Perhaps, all these challenges facing pensioners, brought about 1992 pension define benefit pension scheme and another reform of 2004 Pension Reform Act as amended in 2014, which lunched the Contributory Pension Scheme as against the define benefit model already which was marred with corruption and lack of transparency. Under this scheme, an employee monitors his saving which is controlled and managed by a licensed Pension Fund Administrator (PFA) pensioners are still finding it difficult to access or collect their money on time.

Pension Reform Act of 2004 in its 13 years lifespan, has recorded a lot of improvement, within this period, available record shows that the scheme has been able to grow the nation total pension assets from a very little amount at inception in 2004 to over N6.42 trillion as at March, 2017 with an average monthly contribution of N30 billion, while the pension asset presently represents about 6% of the nation’s rebased GDP.

As at March, 2017, an estimated 184,979 workers have retired under the scheme and have not received pension as and when due, with an average monthly pension payment of N6.7 billion with his innovative that was put into the nation’s pension administration, even the private sector which was initially apprehensive, has since joined the scheme, resulting in the enrollment of over 200,000 private sector employers of labor who now joined the scheme and have accounted for over 60 percent of the industry’s total asset.

There is significant improvement and transparency with about 26 to 27 states now joining the contributory pension scheme with which the remaining 9 to 10 states preparing to join. In states like Delta, Edo, Kogi, Oyo and Kwara, State Pensioners have been finding it difficult to collect their pension and gratuity. Just last week, I was watching the Nigerian Television authority (NTA), where hundreds of pensioners in Delta State protested in Asaba, the state capital, over the non-payment of their pension and gratuity. They accused the state governor of refusal to pay their retirement due since 2013. The retirees who staged a protest march from the premises of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) to the State House of Assembly and Government House, threatened to protest against voting for Governor Okowa in the 2019 general elections.

The protesters carrying placards with various descriptions, including, no payment of retiree contribution and no second term, retirees are dying in Delta state, Delta State government, why are you killing retirees? We are third class citizens in Delta state and Okowa we will pay you back in your own coin among others.

As it is in Delta, so it is in other states, the question many people are asking is, why is the government not helping the retirees to get their gratuity and pensions as and when due? After many years of meritorious services, these people are aged and they need nothing but happiness like eating on time and living a good life after retirement like the Yoruba adage, “IdunnunionjeAgba” (Happiness is the food of elders) it is time for the government to pity these elders and assist them to live in good health and happiness after their service years.

How will life be for a man that is 70 to 80 years and his wife also 70, both retired, without gratuity and pension as and when due? Their children are unemployed, life will be miserable for them, so, I am appealing to the National Assembly to look into these challenges and find a lasting solution to them. About 3 million retirees have died in the last 7 years because they could not have their pensions and gratuity on time, the National Assembly needs to seek a serious review of the pension act in order to assist the retiree in having their pension on time.

Just recently, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wammako, former governor of Sokoto State sponsored a bill on pension amendment. It is a welcome development if the reform can be done in a way that will assist the retirees in getting their retirement dues without delay.
Based on the information made available to me, it was revealed that since 2006, Kwara State retiree have been finding it difficult to get their gratuity and pension as and when due while local government gratuities stopped in November 2008 till now, no gratuities, except the collection of half and percentage monthly salary since April 2015 till now.

Majority of these retirees between 70 -80 years of age, they need assistance from the government to get their salary and gratuity on time. Local government pensioners, the government has publicly declared times without number that he owes them no salary and that their salary was not with him, while at the state level, their salaries are paid as and when due. In this column, I have written on local government salary, in a write up titled “On this, I align with my governor”.

I was attacked for aligning with Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed that the local government is not with the governor that the issue of joint account is not the joint account with the state but with the 16 local government that the state only assisted the local government when there was a short fall in salary payment, they lent them some money to augment and collected it back when they had surplus.
God bless the federal republic of Nigeria, Happy independent day
X-ray the plight of Nigerians and Kwara pensioners Reviewed by nationalmoonlight on October 15, 2017 Rating: 5

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