‘Contributory Pension Scheme is for every individual who earns a living’
Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo is the immediate past Chairman of Sigma Pensions, the position he held for 13 years. He was the Head of Research and Business Advisory Services Department at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1983. Along his career path at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, he rose from an Assistant General Manager/Head of Research and Information System in 1989, to Deputy Director-General/Chief Operating Officer of the bourse by December 2000. He spoke to journalists on the relevance of Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and other sundry issues. HELEN OJI was there.
Having been part of the CPS in the last few years, what is your assessment of the industry?
The industry has evolved from where it all started with just seven licensed Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) to the present 21 duly licensed PFAs in the industry. This shows that there was indeed the need for the scheme to increase with Nigerian working population. The industry’s evolution has also ensured that retirement has become a lot easier for senior citizens like me.
The industry has equally recorded Asset Under Management of more than N7 trillion and this is only from the formal sector, which makes up a smaller percentage of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Imagine what those numbers would have increased to if the informal sector had been included in the scheme from the unset. The industry is evolving and will continue to evolve with changing dynamics and I am optimistic that it can only get better.
What is your advice to the Nigerian public about preparing for retirement?
As mentioned above, the CPS has eliminated retirement with tears. My advice to the public is that it is necessary for every individual who earns a living to participate in the scheme, be it the contributory or voluntary, to ensure a secured future at retirement. I always say to people that pension and retirement are two very different things. The former is the plan you put in place to ensure the latter. And each contributor can further augment his/her retirement balance by adding to the mandatory contributions stipulated by the National Pension Commission. Everyone must see it as saving for the future.
Can you tell us your career journey before Sigma Pensions?
I started my career as teacher in Fazl-I-Omar Ahmadiyya primary school in Lagos Island having completed my secondary education. I taught there for a few years before embarking on further studies. After graduating from the University, I joined the civil service as a Planning Officer in the Ministry of National Planning where I rose through the ranks to become Principal Planning Officer and Head of Research Unit in the Macro-Economic Department of the Ministry by 1982.
By December 31, 1983, I resigned my appointment with the Federal Government of Nigeria and took a job with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry as Head of Research and Business Advisory Services Department. At the beginning of September 1989, I assumed duties at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) after resigning my appointment with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in August in the same year.
I also rose from Assistant General Manager/ Head of Research and Information System in 1989 to Deputy Director-General/Chief Operating Officer of the dynamic emerging stock market by December, 2000. I retired in June 2003 after 14 years of meritorious service to the institution. I was a director of African Alliance Plc, one of the foremost insurance companies in Nigeria, and became the board Chairman of Sigma Pensions Limited in 2005 until my retirement recently.
Congratulations on the successful completion of your tenure as the Chairman of Sigma Pensions, what will be your story today?
My story today is that of a happy and an accomplished person. Even though we anticipated and had big dreams for the company, in truth, its growth in the last 13 years has surprised us all and I can only say it is as a result of the doggedness and commitment of the management and staff of Sigma Pensions that has brought us this far. I am grateful to have been a part of that journey.
Could you take us through your achievements during your tenure as the chairman of the Company?
As the chairman of the Board of Directors of Sigma Pensions, I witnessed the company grow from just a mere startup to its enviable position today as one of the leading lights in the Nigerian pension industry. Sigma Pensions began with an initial authorised share capital of N300 million ordinary shares of N1 each and has since been raised to N1.25 billion of shares, with N985 million of the shares fully paid-up.
Sigma Pensions is today, one of the top five Pension Fund Administrators in Nigeria with Assets Under Management worth more N345 billion for more than 705,000 registered contributors. To date, the company has paid out more than N89 billion as benefits to its retirees. All these we have achieved organically in the last 13 years.
What were your most exciting moments during your tenure as chairman of the company?
One that always stands out to me is the fact that the management and staff formed a family-like bond, which bridged the gap among the workforce and allowed for a cohesive working environment that ensured the delivery of results and goals. It was indeed a happy time for me whenever I was around for meetings or any other thing. That I would recommend to leadership offices in many corporate organisations, as it would ensure stability, less friction among workers and avoidable sabotage resulting from needless rivalry.
What would you expect the new chairman and the board to do to take the company to the next level?
Being a very vibrant and knowledgeable board, I expect nothing less, but exciting times ahead for the company. With the wealth of knowledge it has, I assure you, Sigma Pensions is geared towards forging ahead, having already been the only Pension Fund Administrator in Nigerian to be recognised as one of the fastest growing companies in Africa by the London Stock Exchange. The knowledge is there, the experience to navigate the industry’s evolving terrain is there and there is a fully developed organisational framework for sustainability. So, it’s a whole world of opportunities and achievements for the company each passing day.The board is heavy on corporate governance, especially with the Actis representation on the board. I expect that the wealth of experience represented on the board will ultimately guide Sigma Pensions to even greater heights.
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