There seems to be a force that is intent to return what turns out brilliant system in Nigeria back to where it was taken from despite high degree of clean up and return it again, this time deeper into the dirt water. This force is driven by selfish motives that thrives through well coordinated white wash set for staff interest.
This well coordinated plot has not sparred the contributory pension scheme regulated by the current pension law Pension Reform Act PRA 2014. Several attempts have been made to pull contributors out of the system, some have succeeded and some have failed but the failure of some have not deterred plots to deflate the benefits to contributors.
Its 18 years since Nigeria pension industry has been regulated first by the Pension Reform Act (PRA) enacted in 2004. After it became operational the pains usually associated with no funds for retirees became non existent and the industry ensured that the average Nigerian worker is able to retire in peace and dignity. The act brought about the professionalization of pension fund administration and the growth of the pension industry in Nigeria. There are many gains that the pension industry has achieved and there is a great need to protect these gains from individuals seeking personal gain.
Not satisfied that the pains of standing in the queue with several casualties was no more, the reverse actors have moved in over the last number of years, to reverse these gains with brilliantly worded bill but in it are gaps that that would hurt and make retirees experience the pains of the past when there was no CPS. Its usually done by seeking to amend the act that would allow groups of people to leave the scheme. These acts are typically done through legislative actions as certain groups sponsor bills to exit the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS)
It has been widely reported in the newspapers that a “Bill for an Act to amend the Pension Reform Act, 2014, to Exclude/Exempt the National Assembly Service from the Contributory Pension Scheme and Establish the National Assembly Service Pension Board; and for Related Matters (HB 2025)” has been passed by the House of Representatives to exempt the National Assembly staff from the Contributory Pension Scheme by establishing a National Assembly Pension Board.
It is certain this bill was not passed in “good” faith. First, because an important bill of this nature, should go through the standard and due legislative processes. One of such processes is the convening of a public hearing where all stakeholders that are affected by the bill are invited to discuss and engage.
Second, all the stakeholders like the workers union, labour, the Pension Fund Operators, the Regulators, Employers of labour and other critical stakeholders were not engaged in the process. Besides, some principal officers of the House who normally should oversee the passage of bills were unavoidably absent, bringing the integrity of the process into question. This leads to the submission that the actors are geared to serve their interest which is always the interest of such organised opposition to the CPS.
It needs to be ascertained, why the bill was passed without the crucial input of citizens and stakeholders? This breach of sacrosanct legislative processes and the rather hurried passage of this bill, triggers serious concerns and should be revisited urgently in the interest of both National Assembly staff, the pension industry and the nation in general.
As a matter of fact, there are a number of proposed amendments to the current pension act that have been proposed within the house for a number of years. So, for this bill to pass quickly, while the others left unattended to speaks to ulterior motives.
It is pertinent to note that the Federal Government had earlier issued a white paper stating that the Police Force or any other government agency should not leave the Contributory Pension Scheme as the scheme was the Federal Government’s way to have structured and sustainable pensions for its employees.
Furthermore, economic analysis and actuarial reports have shown that it would be impractical and irresponsible to move the police or other sectors of the Federal Civil Service from the current Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) to a Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) because of the amount of funds this would cost, the fiscal position of the government and the effect it would have on future retirees.
So, this makes this recent bill to exit the National Assembly staff quite puzzling and at a cross purposes with the fiscal situation of the country or the stated position of the executive.