Nigeria’s Successful Pension Administration Attracted The World Summit – Usoro

Grace_UsoroThe Chairperson of the World Pension Summit, Africa, Grace Usoro, on Tuesday stated that the World Pension Summit was brought to Africa because of Nigeria’s achievement in establishing a viable and successful pension scheme.

Having gone through a reform, Mrs Usoro noted that it became imperative for Nigeria to set a leadership role when it comes to pension in Africa, hence the decision to seek the partnership with the World Pension Summit.

“The National Pension Commission went into a partnership with the World Pension Summit to bring that brand to Africa and for us we are convinced that they were convinced by the achievements Nigeria has recorded in the area of pension. That is why they are very willing to go into that partnership with Nigeria,”  Mrs Usoro said.

She further noted that it was important that Nigeria set a leadership role in Africa with regards to pension.

“Having implemented that reform successfully for the past ten years, we felt Nigeria has come of age to establish itself in a leading position regarding pensions.

“The achievement of the pension reform have become visible in the economy. Before the reform we had a deficit of about two trillion Naira and over 10 years that has grown significantly into accumulation of huge pool of funds that we believe can be effectively channelled not only into the Nigerian economy but Africa as a whole,” she said while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s flagship breakfast show.

She said Nigeria’s achievement was one of the reasons that propelled them to “form a synergy or cooperation, within the African continent to ensure that the next phase of the implementation of the pension reform is felt in the continent as a whole.

She expressed happiness over the partnership with the World Pension Summit, adding that the “summit addresses the gaps that we have identified existing not only in Nigeria but in Africa”.

Mrs Usoro further explained that the gaps could be filled with pensions, pointing out that for that reason, the summit had dwelt around looking at experiences from other jurisdiction, not only in Africa, but the world at large, to see how other jurisdictions have addressed these areas.

She pointed infrastructure and real estate development as areas that they have “gotten experiences globally from jurisdictions that have done well in that area”.

In his speech at the opening of the two-day summit, President Goodluck Jonathan made it clear that the protection of pension funds’ retirement benefits remained top priority of his administration.

“Pension as globally recognised occupies a strategic place in national socio-economic development. It is not only a vital component of social security but also a veritable vehicle for nation building. Indeed, investment in pension has profound impact on the well-being of pensioners, the society and the economy at large” he said.

President Jonathan advised stakeholders in the life shaping industry to engage constantly in dialogue to foster management framework and practices in their respective jurisdiction.

Politicians Should Also Be Included In Nigeria’s Pension System – Senator Etuk

Senator Aloysious EtukThe Chairman Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, Senator Aloysious Etuk, on Tuesday commended the recommendations made at the World Pension Summit (Africa Special), noting that it was necessary to include other categories of workers, as well as politicians, in the pension system.

He aired is views while speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

Speaking on the importance of the Summit, Mr Etuk noted that “we have just realized that pension should not only be for working population. After-all, when we are saying working population – we have those who work in formal sector, informal sector, organised sector, unorganized sector – and everybody should be mobilised to consciously save for the rainy day.

Etuk further advocated that politicians should also be integrated into the pension system, disclosing that he had been forced to abandon his aides in Abuja, when former Head of State, Sanni Abacha, disbanded the House in 1993.

He noted that such a move would ensure that public servants leave office with savings asides other allowances.

“In 1993, when Abacha sacked us from the National Assembly, the money I had on me was not enough to pay my way and my aides back to Lagos. So I had to abandon my aides there and find a way to transport myself to Lagos.”

Speaking on the negative impressions concerning the pension system in Nigeria, the senator said things have changed positively since the advent of the Senate probe into the pension system, which in turn caused the executive to pay attention.

Asked about the security framework put in place to ensure that pensioners have access to their funds as and when due, Senator Etuk stressed that “with the passage of the 2014 Pension Reforms Act, all the leakages, all the cleavages that had existed in the former law, penalties, mode of operation, enhanced level of management and specifications have been set in that law to make sure that nothing like what happened in the past will happen again.”

He noted that most of the challenges were as a result of the previous scheme, maintaining that the Pension Transitional Arrangement (PTA) was added to the Act to assure citizens of the safety of their funds.

Although he admitted that the loop holes had caused a lot of pension criminals to walk away freely, he noted that the consoling factor was that the government was paying the back-logs of pension owed citizens.

On the befitting punishment for pension criminals, he noted that lawmaking is a tedious process but that the law now ensures that a pension thief pays three times what was stolen and is also liable to face a 10 year jail term.

He argued against a death sentence, stressing that law making is not only influenced by local proposals but by international standards.

Lawyer Questions Need For National Conference

Mr. Akanbi

A Nigerian Lawyer, Ahmed Akanbi, has questioned the need for a National Conference, saying it is ‘just a talk show’ and that the average Nigerian is tired of talk shows”.

Referring to the era of a former Head of State, Sanni Abacha and President Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr Akanbi said that National conferences were held during without meaningful results.

He admitted that Nigeria had problems but questioned why it had to get to this stage before a conference would be convened and if a three-month period was enough to address the problems.

Speaking on Friday on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Akanbi pointed out that before the start of the National Conference, there was a committee set up and recommendations were passed.

He noted that about 80% of the recommendations that were submitted by the committee had not been implemented.

He further questioned the guaranty that the recommendations from the National Conference would be effected, insisting that what Nigeria needed was good governance.

Mr Akanbi questioned what the faith of the resolutions would be if the government that initiated the conference failed to win in the 2015 general elections.

“A new government may come in by 2015 and set aside the recommendations of National Conference, insisting that the recommendations do not represent the interest of Nigeria,” he said.

The lawyer blamed the National Assembly for not representing Nigerians well, pointing out that “the National Assembly is supposed to be the representative of the masses” and further stated that the 2011 elections were free and fair and urged anyone who is not happy with the 2011 election to wait for 2015.

He stressed that all that Nigerians were asking for was the basic necessities of life and not a conference that would tell Nigerians that there should be accountable in governance, noting that the National Assembly can muster the will to make the government work.

“If public pressure is brought to bear the National Assembly can make the government work,” he stressed.

He also condemned the poor representations of youth in the National conference, describing it as a maginalisation that had been going on in Nigeria for some decades.

“Nothing will come out of this conference, where you have a conference of grandfathers with just about 18 per cent of youths. The mess they have created when they were youth they want to correct with grey hair. You cannot be a judge in your own court,” he insisted.

Why Akande, AIC Can’t Stay On Airport Land – FAAN

The General Manager of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Yakubu Dati has said that the authority had secured a judgment in June that rescind the lease of the disputed land at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos from AIC Limited.

On Tuesday, personnel of FAAN and some officials of AIC Nigeria Limited, engaged in a free for all over the said piece of land.

FAAN had taken possession of the land ceded to AIC for the construction of a hotel following a court ruling and yesterday deployed its workers to clear the land with two tractors.

The Chairman of AIC, Harry Akande, guarded by armed policemen and some of his workers invaded the land to prevent FAAN officials from working on the land, even as he said the court ruling did not direct FAAN to take possession of the land.

The scuffle which lasted for several hours attracted the attention of travellers and airport users. Some Policemen from the MurtalaMuhammed Airport led by Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations), Chucks Enwonwu were around to restore peace while appealing to the parties to settle the matter amicably.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, Mr Dati said that the disputed 15 Hectares of land has been overgrown with grass necessitating FAAN officials to move in to clear the weed and that in the process they were accosted by thugs led by the Chairman of AIC, Harry Akande.

He said for security reasons third parties are not allowed to go near the terminal and that FAAN staff tried to protect the terminal from being invade by Mr Akande and those with him.

Mr Dati said in 1998 under the government of Sani Abacha, the land which is about 15 hectares was given as concession to AIC to build and manage a hotel facility for 50 years.

He said the area concessioned was supposed to be for expansion claiming that due to lack of expansion most people miss their flights and the facilities are breaking down.

He said due to that fact that the land had not been used for over 15 years, FAAN decided to terminate the contract and a sum of $48 million was proposed by arbitration as compensation to AIC but that FAAN lawyers rejected the proposal stating they can’t pay for a land that had been laying fallow.