The contributory pension scheme (CPS) has accumulated a large pool of investible funds of over N4.5 trillion pension assets as at June this year, the Director General, National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu stated yesterday.
Anohu-Amazu disclosed this in an address presented at a conference titled: “Sensitising Major Stakeholders on Developments Ushered in by the Pension Reform Act 2014,” held in Lagos last week.
The PenCom boss also revealed that over 6.2 million contributors have been registered on the CPS since inception.
According to her, payment of pension under the CPS presently has been prompt and consistent since 2007.
She however pointed out that the amendment to the Pension Reform Act 2004 was as a result of some imperfections.
“The experiences and lessons gathered in the last 10 years of the implementation of the pension reform necessitated amendments to the PRA 2004. “It is worthy of note that the Pension Reform Act 2014 re-enacted the copious provisions of the repealed 2004 Act, which include inter alia, the establishment of the contributory pension scheme as well as the National Pension Commission as the sole regulator and supervisor of pension matters in Nigeria.
“There were also new developments introduced by the Pension Reforms Act 2014, which include wider coverage for private sector employees and upward review of the minimum rate of pension contribution,” she explained.
Furthermore, she pointed out that prior to the establishment of the PRA 2014, several states in the country, particularly those in the South-west geopolitical zone had established the CPS and were at various stages of implementation.
But the PenCom boss noted that the PRA 2014 Act, has taken states and local governments participating in the CPS to another level as a result of the express legislative statement on coverage of employees of states and local governments.
She also appealed to states and local governments yet to adopt or implement the CPS to quickly do so in order to avail themselves and their employees of the benefits of the scheme.
“It is pertinent to note that that PenCom has established functional offices in the six geographical zones in Nigeria and is now strategically positioned to facilitate and offer the needed technical assistance to states and local governments in their efforts to adopt and implement the CPS,” she added.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, said Nigeria should not depend on imported refined products for another 20 years.
He said, “First and foremost, it is not possible. We have a maximum of four or five years to put the refineries’ programme together and Nigeria cannot continue to depend on imported refined products. But if that is what the Nigerian government believes, then we have some serious difficulties.
“The situation can be resolved within two years; it is the question of having private refineries and deregulating the prices of petroleum products completely and totally. In fact, we can resolve it within one year so that the new investors in the refineries can take over.”
The immediate past President, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Mr. Babatunde Ogun, said it was disheartening that such a comment came from a senior government official.
“What do we gain in creating jobs outside our shores and crying of high rate of unemployment? It is sad! The worst it will take to build a 200,000-barrel refinery is a maximum of four years,” he said.
A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Fred Agabje, described the statement as a shame on the Federal Government and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
He said the government was interested in leaving the nation’s refineries in comatose and continue to import fuel at exorbitant prices to the benefit of few party officials.
Agbaje said, “It is a shame on the Federal Government to which Alison-Maduke is a part. The Peoples Democratic Party should take the largest share of the blame. As of the time the PDP took over power in 1999, there were three refineries working at full capacities. But the refineries are left in states of comatose due to failure to carry out the turnaround maintenance on them.
“It now pays the PDP-led Federal Government to import fuel at exorbitant prices instead of reviving the refineries. And who are benefitting from the importation of fuel? They are members of the ruling party.”