REMARKS BY CHINELO ANOHU-AMAZU, DIRECTOR GENERAL, NATIONAL PENSION COMMISSION AT THE CEREMONY TO LAUCH THE COMMENCEMENT OF PAYMENT OF RETIREMENT BENEFITS UNDER THE CONTRIBUTORY PENSION SCHEME IN KADUNA STATE, AT THE BANQUET HALL, STATE HOUSE, KAWO, KADUNA ON 28 FEBRUARY, 2017
I am highly elated to be part of this remarkable event which is being held to launch the commencement of payment of retirement benefits under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) in Kaduna State. Indeed, this is a milestone engendered by the diligence of the current Kaduna State Government in its renewed efforts at implementing the CPS. I must commend His Excellency the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai for his exceptional leadership in providing a renewed impetus to the implementation of the CPS for the benefit of employees of the Kaduna State Government. We also congratulate the retirees who are being paid their retirement benefits after many meritorious years of service to Kaduna State.
Distinguished Guests, the main essence of the Pension Reform of 2004 was to ensure that retirement benefits are paid when due and in a sustainable manner. Therefore, with today’s occasion, the retirees of the Kaduna State Government would clearly experience its positive impact. It is noteworthy to highlight the enormous work done by the Kaduna State Government in attaining this milestone within record time. This is ample testimony to the exceptional efficiency exhibited by His Excellency, Mr. Governor, with impactful achievements across all sectors. The special focus on ensuring that Kaduna State implements the CPS is not fortuitous. It may interest this august gathering to know that His Excellency, Mr. Governor was one of the main architects of the Pension Reform which the Federal Government embarked upon in 2004. The quest to reform the Nigerian pension sector began during the tenure of His Excellency, Mr. Governor, while serving as the Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE). I recall that as we worked on the privatization of big public corporations, a recurring issue in all of them was a huge pension deficit which hampered the process considerably. Therefore, Mallam El-Rufai recommended the emergence of an enduring solution to the unsustainable pension liabilities for the public and private sectors. The Government of President Olusegun Obasanjo embraced the Pension Reform by setting up the Fola Adeola Committee on Pension Reform. I was seconded by the BPE then to serve in this Committee whose work culminated in the enactment of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2004 which introduced the CPS. In over twelve years of implementation, the CPS has clearly instituted a sustainable pension scheme that had largely succeeded in stemming the tide of unsustainable pension liabilities, while ensuring payment to retirees.
Distinguished guests, the revised PRA 2014 sought to deepen the Pension Reform in recognition of the modest gains recorded within the first decade of implementation. It therefore extended coverage of the CPS to States and Local Governments. The Commission has enhanced support to the States in facilitating their implementation of the CPS by providing a bespoke technical assistance of guided implementation, through our restructured State Operations Department. I am pleased to note that the Kaduna State Government has taken full advantage of this support with outstanding results achieved in a short span of time. We are happy that one of our competent staff, Dr. Dan Ndackson, an indigene of Kaduna State, is currently serving as the Executive Secretary of the Kaduna State Pension Bureau, driving this change process towards full implementation of the CPS. It is also gratifying that the Bureau is focused on acquiring the appropriate Information and Communication Technology infrastructure, the Pension Management System (PMIS) in order to facilitate seamless operations. We wish to assure Mr. Governor that the Commission would continue to provide the required support towards ensuring that Kaduna State attains full implementation status of the CPS.
Distinguished Guests, the current economic challenges also provide an opportunity to implement strategies for effective financial management by the States. The huge liabilities which usually build up in the old Defined Benefits Scheme can be mitigated by the adoption and implementation of the CPS by States in the Federation. The CPS provides a mechanism for eliminating these liabilities while the regular contributions into the scheme are undoubtedly less burdensome. I wish to assure all States that the Commission would continue to provide all necessary support towards full implementation of the CPS. We have also empowered our Zonal Offices in the six geo-political Zones of the country to collaborate with the State Governments in that regard. In addition, we are also working on the introduction of the Micro Pension initiative to serve the informal sector of the economy which is dominant in States nationwide.
Finally, on behalf of the entire management and staff of the Commission, I wish to, once again congratulate His Excellency, Mr. Governor, the Government and people of Kaduna State for the focused implementation of the CPS in the overall best interest of workers in the State.
Thank you and God bless.