National Assembly pledge to address hitches in pension payment

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Matthew Otoijagha

The National Assembly has said that it will immediately wade into the pension challenges that Nigerian retirees are grappling with and ensure that the prolonged problems are solved.

Some members of the house spoke during a retreat organized by the Pension Funds Operators Association of Nigeria for members of the National Assembly Joint Committees for Establishment and Public Service on Pension, in Calabar, Cross River State.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Emmanuel Paulker, said, “Many issues and concerns affecting Contributory Pension Scheme retirees under the Pension Reform Act were raised, such as delay in payment of benefits of pensioners that have accrued rights with the government which were not being funded.

“We will try as much as possible, as a committee overseeing the National Pension Commission and the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, put pressure on the government to ensure that these funds are released on time so that pensioners can have their benefits.”

Some of the lawmakers present at the retreat expressed shock that the country’s statutory laws under the PRA 2014 did not provide enough provisions on funding of the pension scheme, and there was still a backlog of arrears. According to them, the retreat gave them better insights into the Nigerian pension situation, and as the committee on the subject matter, they would immediately start to look into the issues.

They promised that they would ensure that the aspects of the legislations needed to protect the senior citizens were amended. The lawmakers also said they would ensure that the Federal Government fulfilled all its obligations under the PRA 2014.

Paulker said NASS would bridge the gap between the lawmakers and the pension operators in order to ensure more interactions that would enable the lawmakers to know the plights of Nigerian retirees and challenges confronting the pension operators. He urged PenOp to engage the executives in charge of pension and other lawmakers at the state level going forward, for better cooperation in addressing pension issues at all levels.

He also advised the state governments to adopt the CPS, adding that it was better than the old Defined Benefit Scheme that many of them were still operating.

While reacting to insinuations that the National Assembly slashed the budget assigned for pensions in the 2018 budget, he said, “The National Assembly never cut a kobo. It was what was presented to the National Assembly that was passed. Indeed, as a committee, we even defended extra funds that were not provided in the budget.”

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