N183 billion debt to pensioners is outrageous – NLC screams
*Contributory pension scheme may collapse except if…
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned that unless urgent steps are taken, the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) designed to ease the suffering of pensioners in the country may collapse, saying the government was indebted to pensioners under the scheme to over N183 billion.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Contributory Pensioners branch of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Abuja, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said government attitude towards remitting the retirement savings bond for many workers who migrated to the new scheme is threatening the survival of the scheme.
The CPS was put in place by the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo under the Pension Reforms Act of 2004 to replace the Defined Benefit Scheme which has made life unbearable for pensioners across the country.
However, with over N183 billion unpaid contribution by the government, Wabba believes the time has come for both the pensioners and workers to join hands to ensure that the right thing is done by the government, saying “we must unite to fight this course because in unity lies our strength”.
Wabba said: “The CPS is being threatened for obvious reasons. The president has narrated some of the challenges that the scheme is passing through and therefore, it is very clear and obvious that the scheme is under threat today and if you are not careful, the scheme may even collapse because where you have a liability of over N183 billion unattended to, is something that should give all of us course for concern.
“As we use to say, retirement should be sweet, but I think retirement in Nigeria have turned out to be a nightmare where our very senior citizens. Instead of receiving attention they deserve having served their country diligently, it is now the other way round.
“That is why I am extremely delighted that this forum is being put together. I am aware that another group is parading themselves as representing the interest of the contributory pensioners. I know that as a matter of fact, the NUP has the capacity and the strength and structure to accommodate your interest effectively.
“The union has been in existence since 1978 and has structures in all the 774 local government areas in the country and in all states. Both the Defined Benefit Scheme and the CPS are passing through serious challenges. “Under the law, the pension union is supposed to protect your interest within the context of the law ad those laws states that you have the right.
So, in your own interest and to protect your right, you have a right to belong to the NUP and try to unite because it is better to have a platform that is tested rather than trying to go solo or going in segment t pursue our course and at the end of the day, all of us will then suffer.
“A worker today is a potential pensioner tomorrow and as NLC, we have taken your plight to be very core in the defence of workers right. If is very clear in our constitution that you take the issue of the worker and the pensioner side by side and we will do that.
“The issue of payment of benefits in Nigerian has become a nightmare and both of the pension schemes we are operating today have come under serious challenge. The payment of benefits as and when due is seriously an issue that need to be consider d because presently pensioners under the contributory pension scheme go through serious stages to get paid their benefits.