Union alleges threat to contributory pension scheme
Speaking in Abuja while meeting pensioners that fall under the contributory pension scheme, the National President of NUP, Dr Abel Afolayan, said it was imperative that the contributory pensioners are organized and unionized.
Though Afolayan lauded near-absence of fraud in the contributory pension scheme since it began in 2004, he opined that the non-payment of the saving bond by the Federal Government could derail the scheme.
He added: “There is no doubt that since the inception of the scheme, there was no single case of fraud in the last 10 years of its existence and many pensioners have been able to access their retirement benefits as at when due. But I have observed that in recent time, especially since October 2015 to date that retirees under this scheme have not been able to access their retirement benefits as a result of the non-payment of the accrued right by the Federal Government through the retirement saving bond.”
Apart from Federal Government defaulting, Afolayan said many organisations of government and other employers of labour have equally been defaulting in the regular remittances of contributions of workers to their pension fund administrators.
The NUP chief highlighted that pension has not been reviewed by government even when workers salaries were reviewed which is a disobedience to section 173(3) and section 210(3) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and section 15 of 2014 pension reform act (as amended) which stipulated that pension shall be reviewed after every five years or whenever workers salaries are reviewed.
While pointing out the inadequacies inherent in the Pension Reform Act 2004, Afolayan identified abolition of gratuities which has now denied employees the opportunity of getting lump sum at the end of their carrier.
He also added that the National Pension Commission and Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) are yet to specify how pensioners can benefit from returns on the investment accrue from their contributions which has left pensioners who are the legitimate owners of the funds in hardship, while PFAs are smiling to their banks.
Afolayan further stressed that the NUP appeared before the joint committee on budget and appropriation at the National Assembly and submitted a memorandum requesting over N183billion to fund the accrued right of retirees from 2015 to date as part of efforts to ensure that contributory pensioners entitlements are not denied.
On his part, the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, commended the efforts of the NUP and urged the contributory pensioners to stay united and protect their right.
He declared that the NLC would offer its support and is ready to work together alongside the NUP to ensure regular payment of pension to retired workers in the country.