By Tom Moses
The National Pension Commission, PenCom, yesterday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, said the pension assets had hit N5.03trillion, even as the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, described the diversion of pension fund or its misappropriation by public officials as the height of man’s inhumanity to man.
The governor who spoke at the South-South Stakeholders Sensitization Conference on Nigeria’s Pension Reforms Act 2014, held in Uyo, said misappropriation of pension funds by public officials was criminal, evil and should be treated as such.
Represented by his deputy, Obong Moses Ekpo, Governor Emmanuel contended that such act did not only deprive hard-working citizens from accessing their due benefits but further aggravated frustration among such individuals which could lead to their untimely deaths.
He said: “This is the height of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man even as it amounts to a crime against the state. This is more so because pension is a reward for all the toils and sacrifices of the working man and woman. Every worker builds great hope and expectations on pension after retirement from active service but prior to the Pension Reform Act of 2014 in Nigeria, pensioners had faced hard times trying to access what was supposed to be their benefits. Pension management was bedevilled with high rate of corrupt practices, lack of transparency due to non-reliable data base of pensioners and huge amount of money were expended on verification exercise which further complicated the situation and made the scheme more cumbersome.”
Governor Emmanuel urged stakeholders at the conference to strategise and provide the needed template for a successful implementation of the new Act as well as new vistas that would be both enforceable and enduring in all ramifications.
Also speaking, the Director-General of PenCom, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, disclosed that the fund had generated over N5.03trillion worth of pension assets invested in various sectors of the Nigerian economy
She however lamented the partial implementation of Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, by states in the South-South geopolitical region of Nigeria, which she said had denied such states the obvious advantages of the scheme.
Represented by the Commissioner, Inspectorate of the Commission, Professor Mohammed Ka’oje, the DG however noted that the scheme had eliminated avenues of corruption to the benefit of the new pension administration.
According to her, the contributory pension scheme has also made available for states to benefit from a pool of investible pension funds to drive economic and infrastructural development in their respective states.
“It is noteworthy that many states have adopted the Contributory Pension Scheme and are at various stages of its implementation. However, no state in the South-South geo-political zone has fully implemented the Contribution Pension Scheme”, Anohu-Amazu reiterated.
She disclosed that the scheme had delivered all the major objectives of the reform and had not recorded any case of malpractice since it was established about 11 years ago.
She, however, appealed to all the states and local governments in the South-South zone to step-up their efforts to implement the contributory pension scheme in order to avail themselves and their employees the opportunities the scheme offers.