A labour leader has advised all stakeholders on pension matters to reject the proposed bill seeking to exclude selected members of Nigeria security, para-military and other related institutions from the Contributory Pension Scheme.
In a statement issued in Kaduna, Issa Aremu, the Chairman of the Interim Management Committee of the First Guarantee Pension Fund Administrator, said Pension reform Acts of 2004 and 2014, were ”outcomes of executive bills which addressed the delicate interests of the pensioners, government and the economy.”
Mr. Aremu, a national executive committee member of NLC, said that the new bill was informed by “narrow and vested interest consideration” and cannot do justice to all.
The labour leader also said any private member bill which seeks to erode the gains of the 13-year-old N7 trillion Contributory Pension Scheme in terms of coverage and resource pools is “counterproductive” and should not be encouraged.
He said pensions of the nation’s working men and women in security services are better secured in a national contributory scheme than the old “unfunded and unsustainable discredited” Defined Benefits Scheme, DBS.
According to him, until the recent contributory pension reform, “all stakeholders bore witness to ugly features of corruption, inefficiency and share looting,” which he claimed characterized the old DBS.
The labour leader said that to return to the old era means, “bringing back corruption to pension administration through the National Assembly.”
He, however, advised the National Assembly against what he called “the pitfalls of frequent self-serving out-sourced amendments” of the Pension Act.
He observed that the Pension Act had just been amended through executive, all-inclusive review two years ago.
He said with all its globally acknowledged successes, the contributory pension covers only 7 million workers, adding that to further ask for exclusion of the security agencies only undermines the scheme with all the attendant negative implications for Nigerian economy just coming out of recession.
He, therefore, called on lawmakers to reject the private bill which will return pensioners to the bad old days of non-payment of pensions.
Mr. Aremu also said it was wrong for the sponsor of the bill to pitch the DBS against the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, adding “that it is not one or the other but the latter has worked for the pensioners while the former had failed in the past.”
He said the legislators should, through their oversight, ensure appropriate budgetary appropriation for the accrued benefits arising from the old unfunded scheme is paid.
He also said they should ensure that the huge 60 million workforce in both informal and formal private sectors and states civil services are covered in the compulsory pension scheme.
The pension reform bill is sponsored by a House of Representatives member, Oluwole Oke.
The bill has passed its second reading.
The bill seeks to exclude members of the Nigeria Police, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Prison Service, Nigeria Immigration Service and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from the Contributory Pension Scheme.
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