THE PARAMOUNCY OF PENSIONERS’ WELFARE
REMARKS BY DR. AKINTOLA, BENSON OKE, FCArb ON THE OCCASION OF THE CONFERMENT OF 2017 EXCELLENCE AWARD AT THE FOURTH EDITION OF THE BUSINESS TODAY AWARDS THEMED, “THE CURRENT ANNUITY FUND ARRANGEMENT: A THREAT OR BLESSING TO INSURERS?”
1. On October 19, 2015, when I was appointed by His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Executive Governor of Lagos State as the Honourable Commissioner to steward the affairs of the Lagos State Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions, I solemnly resolved to do all within my powers to prioritize the welfare and interests of pensioners in the Lagos State Public Service. Since then, the ministry and the Lagos State Pension Commission have been doggedly pursuing this resolve and have, within limited resources, innovated to ensure the prompt payment of the government’s pension obligations.
2. I am delighted that the Business Today organisation has consistently shown interest in promoting pension management in Nigeria by identifying and honouring regulators and captains of the industry. Furthermore, I am honoured and humbled by the decision to confer the 2017 Excellence Award on me. For this, I am grateful.
3. Without a doubt, prioritizing pensioners’ welfare has both moral, economic, strategic, and social ramifications. Indeed, it is only such a holistic view of the subject that can put the efforts directed at its management and promotion in perspective. On a moral pedestal, I have always said that all persons of goodwill ought to pause and reiterate that it is morally reprehensible for any employer to neglect or refuse to plan and cater for the retirement benefits of its employees who gave the prime of their active years to the employing institution. Thankfully, this is an area where the Lagos State Government, through the instrumentality of LASPEC, has demonstrated its virtuous moral compass.
4. As is well known, under the administration of His Excellency, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, in particular, the Lagos State Government has faithfully honoured its obligations under the Lagos State Contributory Pension Scheme Law (“the Law). Such that, as at April, 2017, the state had presented bond certificates to the 38th batch of retirees from the public service. Furthermore, the Lagos State Government has been consistently winning the National Pension Commission’s award for the Best Pensions Compliant State in the Federation. We are committed to maintaining this rating by continuing and improving on the timely payment of all pensions and other applicable benefits to our retiring workers upon disengagement from service.
5. The strategic relevance of an effective and efficient pension management system to organizational cohesion is also noteworthy. We believe that stimulating confidence in the organization’s commitment to its pension obligations can have positive ramifications on the morale and effectiveness of the workforce. It is therefore a strategic tool in the hands of management. Indeed, it is a tool that has served the Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions very well.
6. The social ramifications of effective pension management are, perhaps, the most consequential. From saving retirees from destitution; ensuring productivity in post-service years; freeing investible resources of the younger generation from deployment to catering for retirees’ welfare; and promoting a general picture of a caring society, the efforts to ensure a functional pension system should never be undervalued.
7. I have taken pains to outline above the philosophical paradigm that informs my actions as the Honourable Commissioner for the Lagos State Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions in order to establish that the positive performances of the Ministry and LASPEC are not happenstances but the result of deliberately calibrated mechanisms informed by pragmatic, grounded and empirically-proven considerations.
8. This leads me to commenting on the theme of this year’s event. The Guest Speaker has, indeed, done justice to this topic and I commend his excellent delivery. I wish to add that Section 7 of the Lagos State Contributory Pension Scheme Law of 2007 recognises annuities as one of the investment options to which retirement savings account can be put. From a social welfare governance perspective, annuities represent a responsible and effective tool that ensures the availability of funds to pensioners in a regular and prudent manner. I call on all stakeholders in the insurance and pension industry to embrace and utilize all tools that promote effective management of the funds available for pension purposes.
9. Let me also commend the board and management of Business Today Communications. As a dedicated online news site devoted to disseminating value added information on insurance, pension, capital market, money market, among others, they are pioneering digital news dissemination in a niche market that is in dire need of information liberalisation. Investors know so well that information is a critical tool for decision making and Business Today should be seen as one of the strategic architectural underpinnings of the nation’s investment regime.
10. I commend your commitment to the provision of timely, factual and reliable information sourced directly from companies in all sectors and other credible/reliable news sources. Indeed, you have already attained the vision to be the prime provider of quality and efficient information that would create an atmosphere for all companies to succeed in their various businesses.
11. As I receive this award, I wish to assure you of my renewed resolve to continue to seek the welfare of pensioners in Lagos State and the promotion of the interests of the pensions industry in Nigeria in general.
12. I also wish to thank His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode for the opportunity to serve as the Honourable Commissioner for the Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions. This office has given me the platform to translate my ideas and passion into tangible performance and results for the good people of Lagos State.
13. I am also deeply grateful to the principal officers of the Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions for the support I have received from them. Indeed, all the officers of the Ministry have demonstrated the passion to serve the interests of the Public Service of Lagos State.
14. Above all, I dedicate this award to the glory of God, my all-in-all, and to the continued progress of Lagos State.
15. Thank you very much.
Dr. Akintola, Benson Oke, FCArb
Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions.