For Nigerian Retirees, Getting Paid By The Government Is Like A Punishable Offense.
In Nigeria, Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) were created under the 2004 Act to ensure judicious management and administration of pension contributions, while the National Pensions Commission (PENCOM) was established with statutory powers to optimally regulate the sub-sector.
Regrettably, however, despite the positive expectations from the implementation of the Pension Reform Act 2004, many retirees are still dissatisfied with what they get as monthly pension, and some have even shown preference for the clearly defined benefits under the old scheme.
The consciousness of sensitive Nigerians is often assailed by the un-dignifying sight of senior citizens and other such retirees, who wearily wait in distress for verification of their identity or eventual payment of pension entitlements from government agencies responsible for disbursement.
The unsightly juxtaposition of such horrid spectacle against the background of impunity in the misapplication of pension funds is obviously also lost on our current political leadership; worse still, in spite of the reforms enacted in the 2004 Pension Act, there has been no single conviction of anyone for the reckless looting of pension funds.
The plight of pensioners, especially in Nigeria is a major cause of concern for any sane individual. From having to endure a less than conducive work environment while in service, to coping with unending months of waiting on the government for payment of gratuity at the point of retirement; the poor pensioners are left with little or no hope when it comes to the prompt receipt of their monthly peanuts from the country. Funny enough, the backlog of this paltry sum sometimes run into months, and perhaps years without any sense of urgency from the concerned authority. Unfortunately, many of these senior citizens have had to answer the call of nature while struggling for their constitutional right over the years.
Just recently, the federal government cleared an inherited arrears of accrued pension benefit for the year 2014, 2015 and 2016 by releasing N41.5 billion to the National Pension Commission, PENCOM, for onward payment to the retirees.
According to Finance minister Kemi Adeosun, “Despite conflicting demands for available cash, President Muhammadu Buhari has always expressed concern about the plight of workers and pensioners. Consistent with this, we have released N41.5 billion which clears the arrears inherited from the previous administration relating to the period 2013-15 and underpayments in 2016. This will bring relief to thousands of our elders who have served and deserve to be paid their entitlements promptly and fully.”
In a bid to addressing the untold hardship, Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara also summoned the Finance Minister alongside the Director General of Budget Office to appear before them to offer explanations to the numerous challenges bordering release of pension fund.
The Speaker of the House explained that due to the sensitivity of the issue, it became necessary to invite both the Minister of Finance and the DG of Budget to come at plenary to brief the House on the challenges as well as steps taken to tackle them. Adding that he would really like to see the problems resolved as quickly as possible.
But how quickly the problems will be resolved is what Nigeria’s aged citizens will really look forward to before the inevitable happens.
Ademola George – Caracal Reports