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‘Lagos committed to retirees’ welfare, financial freedom’

By Samuel Ifetoye
25 January 2022   |   2:50 am
Lagos State has promised commitment to the welfare and financial freedom of all retirees in the state’s workforce, the commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions

Ajibola Ponnle,

Lagos State has promised commitment to the welfare and financial freedom of all retirees in the state’s workforce, the commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Mrs. Ajibola Ponnle, has said.
 
At a press briefing to update the media on the state of pensions in the state, Ponnle said the state government, compared to other states of the federation, has been outstanding in terms of conforming to the payment of pension. 

 
Her words: “Lagos is arguably the most compliant pension state when compared to other states. The state government, under the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is committed to the welfare and financial freedom of all retirees of the Lagos State Public Service.
 
“The state inherited N50 billion debt in accrued rights at the inception of the administration. We currently have a systematic process to clear the backlog inherited from prior administration with payment of N1 billion in accrued rights to retirees monthly.”
 
According to the commissioner, the Sanwo-Olu administration has paid over N35 billion to 9218 retirees as at the end of 2021.
 
“At this rate, Mr. Governor’s intention is to clear the entire backlog. This means that Lagos would be the first state in the country, including the Federal Government, to give retirees access to their Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA),” she said.
 
On the introduction of the Contributory Pensions Scheme (CPS), the commissioner stated, “From 7.5 per cent employer contribution and 7.5 per cent employee contribution, it has now been increased to 10 per cent employer contribution and eight per cent employee contribution, which means retirees earn more.
 
“Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC) manages the pensions of our retirees that are on the CPS, while the Civil Service Pensions Office (CSPO) manages the pensioners who retired before 2007 and are on a defined benefits scheme.”
 
Advising the retirees on bond certificates, she said: “I would also like to educate our retirees that are yet to receive their bond certificates to deal directly with the LASPEC and not any association or unrecognised body. They shouldn’t make payment of any kind to fast track or access their RSA; our customer service line is active and well managed, which is open to any retiree who requires it.”
 
The governor, she added, ensures the availability of funds to both offices for the payment of retirement benefits as and when due. 
 
“Despite the impact of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on the Nigerian economy, the government has made continuous monthly payments of Accrued Pension Rights into RSA a priority to ensure retirees have access to their retirement bond benefits.

“CSPO pays monthly, and there are no arrears. We just increased the pensions by 33 per cent, in line with the minimum wage for all state pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme (Pay As You Go).” 
 
The Guardian gathered that Sanwo-Olu also approved the payment of a balance of 25 per cent rent allowance for officers on Grade Level 07 and above who retired between May 2000 and August 2004.

 
“We introduced innovative technology with online biometric verification of the Lagos pensioners. We are leveraging technology to enable pensioners to participate in the statutory audit exercise from the comfort of their homes within the country and in the Diaspora. The exercise is held twice yearly to forestall financial leakages resulting from the payment of monthly pensions to deceased pensioners.
 
“LASPEC continues to receive accolades and Sanwo-Olu won the Most Pension-friendly Governor recently by Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), which is the only recognised body for retirees in the country,” the commissioner stated.