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Labour kicks over FG’s plans to spend N19.6trn Pension Fund

The Organised Labour has frowned at the Federal Government’s plan to utilise the N19.66 trillion pension funds for infrastructure development. This is contained in a…

The Organised Labour has frowned at the Federal Government’s plan to utilise the N19.66 trillion pension funds for infrastructure development.

This is contained in a joint letter signed by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), which was addressed to the Minister of Finance on Thursday in Abuja.

The letter, which was signed by Mr Joe Ajaero, NLC President and Mr Tommy Etim-Okon, TUC Deputy President, was entitled “Leave our Pension Fund Alone: Do not Tamper with Workers’Funds”.

According to Ajaero, the announcement has ignited deep apprehension and unrest among Nigerian workers, who are the primary contributors of these funds.

“We, therefore, urge the government to reconsider its plans to tap into pension funds and instead explore sustainable financing options that do not
compromise the retirement security of Nigerian workers.

“Organised Labour will resist any action that seeks to undermine the retirement savings of Nigerian workers,” they said.

The letter, however, noted that the government had allegedly accessed nearly 70 per cent of the entire pension funds, adding that it was not merely alarming; it was unacceptable.

It said that Nigerian workers had entrusted their hard-earned savings for retirement security, and not for government projects.

“It is imperative to halt any further plans to tap into these funds, especially given the lack of transparency and accountability in past government borrowing practices.

“You proposal to further leverage these funds for the purported betterment of housing and infrastructure raises serious concerns about fiscal prudence and responsible governance,”it said.

According to labour, where does the government intend to source the additional N20 trillion it seeks to acquire, especially considering the ambiguity surrounding previous borrowing practices from.

It said the lack of clarity on the matter only fuels skepticism regarding the feasibility and sustainability of the initiative.

“Nigerian workers demand assurances that their retirement funds will not fall victim to further Federal Government borrowing.

“This is especially when the PENCOM Board has not been constituted as enshrined in the statutes.

“One is left to wonder which Board superintends over such discussion with the government. Seeking to borrow from the fund is not backed by the Pension Act,” it said.

It said that this was in spite of the government’s assurances of widespread consultation with major stakeholders in the Pension industry.

It said it was disheartening to note that the NLC and TUC, representing the owners of the entire Pension fund contributions, were not consulted nor informed about the government’s intentions.

“This lack of transparency undermines the sanctity of pension funds, which should be treated with utmost reverence and protection at all times.

“It is incumbent upon the government to prioritise alternative sources of funding that do not imperil the financial security of Nigerian workers.

“We insist that any initiative aimed at leveraging pension funds for national development must be executed with utmost transparency, accountability, and respect for the rights and interests of workers.

“Furthermore, we strongly oppose the notion of the government engaging in fierce competition with other users of funds in the Pension fund market.

“We remain resolute in our commitment to safeguarding the welfare and interests of workers across the country,” it said. (NAN)

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