PRIORITISING PENSION OBLIGATIONS: THE LAGOS STATE EXAMPLE
BEING THE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY DR. AKINTOLA, BENSON OKE, FCGP., FCARB., FNIM., THE HONOURABLE COMMISSIONER, LAGOS STATE MINISTRY OF ESTABLISHMENTS, TRAINING AND PENSIONS AT THE PRESENTATION OF RETIREMENT BENEFIT BOND CERTIFICATES TO THE 46TH BATCH OF RETIREES FROM THE LAGOS STATE PUBLIC SERVICE ON TUESDAY, 19TH DECEMBER, 2017 AT NECA HOUSE AUDITORIUM, CBD, IKEJA, LAGOS.
Her Excellency, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, the First Lady of Lagos State;
The Chairman & Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Establishments, Training, Pensions and Public Service
The Head of Service;
The Director-General and Officers of LASPEC;
The Representatives of the Pension Fund Administrators and Insurance Companies;
Our Retirees, the Celebrants of today;
Gentlemen of the Press;
Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen.
1. 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 in October, 2015, 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 (LASPEC) have been doggedly pursuing this resolve and have, within limited resources, innovated to ensure the prompt payment of the government’s pension obligations.
2. Indeed, on this occasion of the 46th presentation of Retirement Benefit Bond Certificates to retirees under the Contributory Pension Scheme created Section 3 of the Lagos State Contributory Pension Scheme law of 2007 (hereinafter referred to as “the Law”), it is heart warming to note that the Lagos State government under the able, compassionate and innovative leadership of His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, continues to set the pace of excellence by prioritising, meeting, and discharging its pension obligations. Indeed, it is important to pause and enumerate how the Lagos State Government has consistently demonstrated its commitment to the post-service welfare of its officers.
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 and exemplary 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 the state is now presenting bond certificates to the 46th 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. Furthermore, the Lagos State Government is proud to report that:
a. In less than 3 years, i.e., August, 2015 to December, 2017, we have paid accrued pension rights of N33 billion to 8,300 Retirees. Accrued pension rights previously paid before the current administration (2010 to mid- 2015) amounts to N33, 645 billion to 7,409 retirees. Therefore, since the commencement of the Retirement Benefit Bond Certificate Presentations in 2010, the State has paid accrued pension rights of over N66.5 billion to more than 15,709 retirees/withdrawn staff;
b. The State Government is also very much committed to the regular contribution of the monthly deduction of 7.5% from the salary of every employee and the payment of the employer’s 7.5% contribution. As at November, 2017 the total contributions remitted to the PFAs from April, 2007 to date is about N83 billion. In essence, the Lagos State Government’s funding of employees pension rights under the Contributory Pension Scheme in a period of 10 years is about N150 billion; and
c. Today, the sum of N1 billion will be credited into the Retirement Savings Account of the 46th batch of retirees of the Contributory Pension Scheme.
9. With such commitment and performance, it is not surprising that retiring public officers in Lagos State now look forward to retirement with more confidence and joy. This is how it should be. Furthermore, let me assure you that the Lagos State Government through LASPEC will continue to ensure that public service retirees not only get what is due to them statutorily, but also continue to receive, through other agencies and programmes) further and additional support and assistance that will add value to their lives in retirement. Among others, this commitment is in fulfilment of the declaration by His Excellency who, in his Inaugural Speech said: “I shall run an open government of inclusion that will not leave anybody behind. No matter your age, sex, tribe or any other status as long as you reside in Lagos, we will make Lagos work for you”.
10. Thus, our retirees can take joy in the fact that they are not, and will not be left behind in the scheme of things by the Lagos State Government. On this note, let me emphasise that I am delighted to be part of your joy today. You have all served in various capacities and sectors to make life better for the people of Lagos State and, in retirement, our commitment is to assist you in making the right choices that will enable the attainment of financial comfort during retirement.
11. As you retire, I wish to advise you to embrace the joys and challenges of this new phase of life. One thing that will stand you in good stead is the readiness to take advise from competent and reliable sources. In this respect, please do not hesitate to contact LASPEC or even the Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions should you require clarifications or advice regarding the modalities surrounding your retirement matters.
12. On behalf of His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Executive Governor of Lagos State and on behalf of the Ministry of establishments, Training and Pensions, I wish to once again congratulate all the retirees benefitting from the presentation of bonds today. I assure you that Lagos State will continue to lead and demonstrate commitment to retirees’ welfare. I also wish to commend the leadership and staff of LASPEC for fulfilling the mandate of the Law creditably.
13. Thank you for your kind attention and congratulations. May the years ahead be blissful.
Dr. Akintola, Benson Oke, FCGP., FCARB., FNIM.,
Honourable Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions.
Itesiwaju Ipinle Eko lo je wa logun
19th December, 2017