Pensions: NLC backs restoration of gratuities for public service retirees

*The Nigeria Labour Congress says restoration of gratuity payment in the public service is the only solution to the problems bedevilling the payment of pensions to retirees in the West African country

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

As a way to provide immediate succour for the public service retirees, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has urged the Nigerian Government to restore gratuities for public service retirees, particularly pending the release of their due pensions.

ConsumerConnect reports the Labour union stated this Tuesday, February 22, 2022, at a public hearing on two bills on the Pension Reform Act, organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Pension, in the National Assembly (NASS), in Abuja, FCT.

While presenting the Union’s position on the two bills in the House, Mr. Uche Ekwe, Head of International Relations at NLC, said exempting some government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) from the contributory pension scheme would be unfair to those MDAs that would remain.

Ekwe stated that the restoration of gratuity payment in the public service is the only solution to the problems bedevilling the payment of of pension to retirees in Nigeria.

In the same vein, Sanusi Lemu, Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Administration, representing the Inspector-General of Police, also said that the dream for an improved pension for the Nigeria Police has remained a mirage.

Lemu stated  this in view of the problems reportedly being experienced by retired Police officers in the country.

The planned exit of the Police from the contributory pension scheme was based on its negative impact on the morale of their personnel, the officer said.

Mrs. A’isha Dahiru, Director-General, National Pension Commission, however, faulted the call for the removal of the Police from contributory pension scheme.

The Director-General stated that the poor pension being received by Police personnel was as a result of their poor salaries.

In his submission, Mr. Mahmud Ayinla, a member of the Contributory Pension and Happy Retirement Advocacy (COPEHRA), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), harped on the need for contributory pension.

Ayinla said: “The devastating past story of the country’s pension industry cannot be compared with the ease, consistency and sustainability of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).”

The former DBS, he noted, was riddled with fraud, corruption, and lack of transparency as government continually budgeted money without corresponding reduction in pension liabilities.

“The CPS has provided a platform to track contributions and savings via monthly, quarterly and yearly statements to the contributors and pensioners while the regulator (PenCom) carryout regular regulatory and compliance functions,” Ayinla said.

Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, represented by Deputy House Leader, Peter Akpatason, said that the two bills would effect the needed intervention.

The Federal lawmaker also disclosed that critical intervention of the Legislature in the pension reform bill would better the lives of retirees.

Rep. Kabiru Alhassan, Chairman, House Committee on Pension, explained that the inputs of the stakeholders would guide the house in improving the living conditions of senior citizens in the country.

The NASS would not feign ignorance of the stress and delay retirees experienced before access their benefits after serving the nation for years, stated he.

The first bill was a bill for an act to amend the pension reform act by providing that a pensioner shall receive at least 75 percent of his retirement savings.

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