Aisha Dahir-Umar, the Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), says the revolution Nigeria has recorded in its pension industry cannot be reversed despite the various challenges and ongoing pushbacks.
In her groundbreaking book, Fighting for the Future: Nigeria’s Pension Reform Journey, which can now be downloaded free of charge on the PenCom website, Mrs Dahir-Umar provides the first authoritative account of the history of Nigeria’s pension reform, which former president Olusegun Obasanjo launched with the introduction of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) in 2004.
The book, published by Cable Books, an imprint of Cable Newspaper Ltd, provides an in-depth analysis of Nigeria’s intricate landscape of pension reform and offers invaluable insights into the nation’s evolving pension system.
“Nigeria’s pension reform can be summarised in two stats. In July 2004, when the reform was kickstarted, the national pension deficit was N2.4 trillion. By February 2023, accumulated pension assets had grown to N15.45 trillion. It was miserably in the red and now abundantly in the black. That is the Nigerian pension revolution in summary,” she writes.
“In the history of economic reforms in Nigeria, pension easily ranks among the most definitive and successful. It has opened up a new economy, creating a cluster value chain, expanding the financial markets and providing funding for infrastructural development. Only the telecoms reform can claim to produce more results during the same period.”
She argued that the success of pension reform in Nigeria indicates that the country has the capacity for change contrary to popular notions.
“Less than 20 years after the landmark pension reform, the success stories are phenomenal, putting a lie to the notion that it is impossible to make a fundamental policy change in Nigeria. All it takes to achieve success is the formulation of feasible policies and fidelity to implementation by the relevant institutions.
‘‘Compared to the previous pension system when pensioners went through an unpleasant experience while trying to claim their entitlements, the turnaround is worth celebrating and, most importantly, sustaining,” she writes.
In his Foreword to the book, Mallam Muhammad K. Ahmad, the pioneer DG and CEO of PenCom in 2004, writes: “I consider this book to be an informative, educative and honest account of the evolution of pensions in Nigeria, and I have no doubt that every reader will find it valuable and highly insightful as well.”
Fighting for the Future provides an in-depth perspective on the evolution of Nigeria’s pension system over the years. It highlights the key policies that have shaped the pension industry since 2004.
It also exposes the challenges that have beleaguered implementing the Contributory Pension Scheme, the numerous media wars against the Commission, and how the reform has been sustained. A section is devoted to the Glossary of standard terms used in the pension industry.
Dahir-Umar, a 1983 graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), became a pioneer member of staff of the Commission in 2004 after serving as the Secretary of the Fola Adeola Pension Reform Committee that birthed the pension revolution. She was appointed the substantive DG of PenCom in October 2020.
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