Pensioners under the aegis of Nigerian Union of Pensioners Contributory Pension Scheme (NUPCPS) say the surgical operation that will bring wellness to pensioners and workers is still not in a healthy form that will improve on the welfare of pensioners and guarantee good retirement for workers.
Giving the advice at the 8th Annual National Conference of the Nigerian Association of Insurance and Pension Editors (NAIPE), with the theme: “Role of Insurance and Pension In Building Sustainable Economic Growth Under The New Government,” in Lagos, the Secretary of the Union, Comrade Bisan Olufemi John, said the contributory pension scheme still fall short of expectations in several respects.
He said the economy and the challenges of pensioners as the CPS is operated are inseparable and government cannot focus on one and ignore the other. According to him, “the Federal Government has been struggling with getting the economy to work, but one thing that is clear is that the people are the ones that will contribute mainly to make such a reality. The government must first think of the workers, improve their welfare so they can then contribute their quota adequately to the economy. It should be the people before the economy. Government should think of how to build the operators of the economy and also improve the life of pensioners.”
Pointing to the pains of the CPS, he recalled the failure of government to pay Group Life Insurance claims to next of kin of deceased civil servants, and the conflicts in annuity for pensioners regarding insurance companies shut down by the regulator..
Speaking in the same vein, another retiree, also a member of NUPCPS, Comrade Olagbayo Johnson. O., said it was unfortunate that the current Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) is littered with gaps, which incidentally does not exist in Chile where the FG copied from. He recalled that it was the unfunded and over a trillion pension liabilities on the part of the FG that compelled government to adopt the Chile pension model and recommend same to state governments.
He lamented Nigeria adaptation is fraught with inadequacies since CPS started in 2004, with marginal difference from the old scheme apart from the fact that employees and employers now contribute towards the pool of funds.
The growing disenchantment with the scheme he noted is fueling decoupling from the scheme by several state governments and federal institutions, he cites the recent departure of the civil servants of the National Assembly, “imagine, National Assembly workers, those are the people who made the law, they are out of the scheme. The military has long left and even the police are on the verge of pulling out. Why is this one different from that of Chile? Their own that we copied from is still working.”
On her part, the Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Lagos Chapter, Comrade Funmi Sessi, lamented that Nigerian pensioners were still far from having the deserved rest. She cited the poor approach by Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) to paying benefits to pensioners.
She also specifically condemned the difficult process in accessing benefits by relatives of deceased workers stressing that the request for a letter of administration and other documents should be made easier.
Also speaking, one of the participants at the event, the Local Chapter Chairman, Nigeria Association for the Blind, Ifako Ijaiye Chapter, Anuoluwa Yinka Isaac, aka Fine Boy, said it was disturbing that Nigerian pension and insurance system does not have special products for the physically challenged in the society.
He observed that those in that category were left out in so many arrangements in the country, stressing that on so many occasions they would have to work out arrangements to live in the society that is almost hostile and unresponsive to the plight.