The Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, said the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has no reason to exit the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
Aisha stated this at a public hearing on a bill to exclude the NPF from CPS and allow a retiree to be paid at least 75 per cent of his/her benefits upon retirement.
She said: “Through the CPS, the government has successfully introduced transparency and efficiency. As such, the attempt for police to leave didn’t start today and it has been a recurrent decimal.
“The reason put forward by the police is that the quantum of the benefits payable to officers of the force who have retired is small, and as such it is a minor issue that salary increment can solve.”
She reminded the committee that the 6th and 8th assemblies made a similar attempt but failed, emphasizing that the issue can be addressed without the police exiting the scheme.
“It is not a solution; pension is a function of salary. As long as the salary remains poor, the contribution will be poor.”
The DG also reacted to the second bill to amend some sections of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014 providing that a pensioner shall receive at least 75 per cent of his/her retirement benefits immediately upon retirement and to criminalise undue delay in the payment of pensions.
She said the operators cannot be criminalised because “They can only pay when the government gives them money, so if they don’t pay, you can’t send them to jail.”
The Speaker of the House of Reps, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who was represented by Hon. Peter Akpatason, said the exercise was to improve the welfare of senior citizens.
“We hope the bill will provide the needed solution and it is expected that it will enhance the pension industry,” he said.
Chairman, House Committee on Pension, Mr Kabiru Rurum, said the public hearing is to get opinions and provide an avenue for senior citizens to make their submissions.
“I urge stakeholders to critically make inputs that will improve the life of retirees,” he added.
The Inspector-General of Police, Baba Alkali, who was represented by the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police in charge of operations, Sanusi Lemu, said the NPF should get equal treatment with the armed forces due to unpleasant experiences of officers arising from the scheme.
The Chief Executive Officer of Pension Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp), Mr Oguche Agudah, said it is not sustainable for the NPF to exit the CPS noting that Nigeria has moved from the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) and if we are to return, the federal government would need a minimum of N2 trillion.
By Sunday Michael Ogwu, Balarabe Alkassim & Chris Agabi