Ortom apologises over government’s failure to implement pension scheme for past years
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom yesterday apologised to both serving and retired workers on behalf of his government as well as previous administrations in the state for the inability to find a lasting solution to the pension problem over the years.
Ortom, who tendered the apology when he flagged off the contributory pension scheme at the Government House, Makurdi, urged workers of the state to key into the contributory pension scheme to better their lot at retirement.
He said that one of the most unpleasant realities his administration met at inception of his duty as governor of the state was the huge pension liabilities inherited from previous administrations in the state.
The governor also noted with dismay that the pension problem was competing for attention with the humanitarian crisis arising from the perennial herder’s attacks as well as other challenges of development and governance.
He said that as the state was grappling with the difficult choice of which challenges to prioritise, the occasional demonstration on the streets by the elderly retired workers in pursuit of their retirement benefits served as a constant reminder that although there were serious other challenges of governance and development to face, the pension problem of the state was one issue that his administration must find solutions to.
He said: “Indeed, our initial efforts to address the pension problem through structured payments proved hopelessly inadequate.
“The more we released funds for the settlement of the pension liabilities, the more the liabilities grew.
“We have finally come to the conclusion that the contributory pension scheme is the best solution to the state’s pension problem.
He further asserted that one of the measures his administration is taking to raise funds to pay for some of the contributory pension scheme costs and to also pay the entitlements of workers exempted from the scheme when they retire or to repay debts taken to defray pension liabilities is to create a special fund to be invested in interest-yielding instruments.
“For efficiency and efficacy, the Benue State Internal Revenue Service, working in consort with the state pension commission, have been mandated to identify some revenue items from which funds are to be raised and dedicated to the Special Pension Fund,” he added.
Chairman, Benue State Pension Commission, Mr. Terna Ahua, expressed gratitude that with the formal flagging off of the commission in the state will surely bring lasting solution to the thorny issue of payment of retirement benefits to retirees in the state.