The inability of 27 states to fully or substantially implement the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) is the reason Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) will not invest pension funds in such states.
Data sourced from the National Pension Commission (PenCom) show that despite clamours by state governors to access pension funds for infrastructural development, most of them are either not implementing the new pension scheme or are slow about it.
While relevant pension laws would not allow them to borrow, the inability of the affected states to implement CPS is also putting millions of pensioners under the new scheme at risk.
Federal Secretariat, Abuja
As of August 31, 2020, the pension assets under the management of PFAs were worth N11.35 trillion.
Governors have declared interest to borrow from the fund, but the Pension Reform Act, 2014 (PRA, 2014) prohibits such borrowing.
Section 89, subsection 1, paragraph C of the PRA, 2014, provides that a PFA shall not “apply any pension fund assets under its management by way of loans and credits or as collateral for any loan taken by a holder of retirement savings account or any person whatsoever.”
Similarly, section 2, subsection 6 of the 2019 Regulation on Investment of Pension Fund Assets issued by PenCom provides that “A PFA shall not engage in borrowing or lending of pension fund assets.”
Faced with these legal hurdles, the Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Aisha Dahir-Umar, said recently that states can access pension funds if they have “safe and viable investment outlets” which PFAs can invest pension funds.
She said PenCom forbids PFAs from investing in states, which have not fully or substantially implemented the new pension scheme.
Data from PenCom show that 27 states are still implementing the old Defined Benefits Scheme by not remitting pension under the new scheme.
The hurdles for the states
To be adjudged as implementing the new contributory scheme, a state must draft a CPS Bill modelled after the PRA being implemented by the federal government and the private sector, pass the bill into law, set up a contributory pension board or Bureau, appoint a PFA, conduct an actuarial valuation to determine accrued pension rights, open a Retirement Benefits Bond Redemption Fund Account (RBBRFA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), start remitting employer and employee monthly pension and also put in place a Group Life Insurance Policy for employees.
Details of the level of implementation of the CPS at the state level obtained from PenCom show that as at the end of September 2020, only nine states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have substantially implemented the new pension scheme by remitting employer and employee pension contributions.
These states are Lagos, FCT, Osun, Kaduna, Delta, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo, Benue and Anambra.
Records show that Kebbi State is remitting only employee pension contribution in violation of the CPS law which requires the state government to also remit its employer contribution.
While 25 states have enacted laws on CPS, seven are still at the bill level more than a decade and a half since the scheme came into existence at the federal level.
States yet to enact laws on CPS include Kwara, Plateau, Cross River, Borno, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi and Katsina.
Jigawa, Kano, Yobe, Gombe and Zamfara states operate other pension schemes different from the contributory pension scheme.
Out of 25 states that have enacted laws on CPS, only 15 have pension boards or bureaux and they include Lagos, FCT, Osun, Kaduna, Delta, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo, Benue, Kebbi, Niger, Rivers, Ogun, Bayelsa and Kogi.
PenCom’s records show that only eight states have conducted actuarial valuation, which is a critical component in the implementation of the scheme for ease of transition from the old to the new scheme in such a way that pension entitlements of workers before the scheme are determined and factored into the new scheme.
These include Lagos, FCT, Osun, Kaduna, Delta, Ekiti, Rivers and Anambra.
However, out of the eight states that have conducted actuarial valuation, only six are funding the accrued pension rights of workers determined during the valuation. The states include Lagos, FCT, Osun, Kaduna, Delta and Anambra.
It is worth noting that only Lagos, FCT, Osun, Ondo and Edo states have valid Group Life Insurance for their workers. This means that at an event of the death of any employees in other states, their families may have no insurance cover to fall back on.
Despite the low implementation of the CPS at the state level, and by implication not qualified to access pension funds through bonds, treasury bills and other investible financial instruments, governors declared they wanted to borrow pension funds even when the PRA, 2014 is clearly against it.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) recently disclosed that it had asked President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct the Director-General and Board of the PenCom to stop the 36 state governors from borrowing and/or withdrawing from the pension funds for infrastructural development.
In a statement on its official Twitter handle, the advocacy organisation said, “The governors last week reportedly proposed to borrow around N17trn from the pension funds after receiving a briefing from Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Chairman of the National Economic Council Ad Hoc Committee on Leveraging Portion of Accumulated Pension Funds.”
Urging the president to stop the proposed borrowing, SERAP said it would lead to serious losses of retirement savings of millions of Nigerians.
Similarly, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has kicked against the plan to borrow from the pension fund, noting that the government has no authority over the money and should, therefore, not tamper with it.
NUP’s Head of Information, Bunmi Ogunkolade, said the governors have no authority over the money as it does not belong to them.
“How can they approve a proposal to borrow part of the workers’ pensions, which many of them (governors) are not contributing to? Do you know that many of the states are not paying the contributory pension?” he queried.
Pension funds not near N17trn
Meanwhile, checks show that governors cannot borrow the said N17trn for several reasons.
To start with, the entire pension fund and assets under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) is not up to N17trn.
In any case, even if the nation’s total pension assets are more than N17trn, the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014 would not allow the governors to withdraw or borrow the said fund.
This simply means that governments at federal, states and local levels can only access pension fund assets through investments made by the PFAs in Treasury Bills issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria or Bonds (including Sukuk) approved by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and other relevant Institutions.
The PRA 2014 and the 2019 Regulation on Investment of Pension Funds stipulate the allowable financial instruments in which pension fund assets can be invested and these are Equities; Federal Government Securities; State/Local Government Bonds; Corporate Debt Securities; Money Market Instruments; Open/Closed-end Funds; Infrastructure Bonds & Funds; Private Equity Funds and any securities/instruments that may be approved by PenCom, from time to time.
In any case, even if the governors hide under state securities to access pension funds for infrastructure development, they will still not be able to make PFAs invest in them because most of the states do not comply with the CPS.
The low compliance with the CPS at the states may not be unconnected to the low investments by PFAs in state securities.
For instance, PenCom reported that as of August 31, 2020, only N148.13bn pension fund has been invested in state securities, translating to merely 1.31 per cent of the total pension assets of N11.35trn.
It is important to note that such investments are not loans as the PFAs can divest from such investments at any time, have limitations on the percentage of pension funds to be invested in each security, and only invest in them from expert analysis based on projected returns on investment and safety of the funds.
PenCom boss, Dahir-Umar, said “there are limited Infrastructure Bonds and Funds available for pension funds to invest. It is expected that PFAs would continue to make pension funds available for infrastructure financing as long as the products offered are viable, bankable and meet the requirements of the Regulation.”
Similarly, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Shamshuna Ahmed, recently dispelled rumours of government borrowing from pension funds.
Fielding questions when she met with capital market stakeholders this year in Lagos during a visit to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mrs Ahmed said, “We won’t borrow from pension fund assets. Pension funds are very sensitive, so we have to be careful.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of Kebbi State chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Umar Halidu Alhasssan, and his counterpart of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Danladi Aliyu Dabai, said Kebbi State Government has not been remitting the pension contribution of primary school teachers for the past 72 months.
The duo said the organised labour in the state would embark on strike should the state government refuse to resume remittance and upset the backlog of the pension contribution as one among other reasons for the strike.
When contacted, the Kebbi State Commissioner of Basic Education, Muhammad Magawata Aliero, did not pick the call placed to him and also did not respond to the text message sent to him.
On why Nasarawa State is not remitting pension contributions as required by the Contributory Pension Act, and how soon the state intends to start remitting, the Public Relations Officer of the Nasarawa State Pension Bureau, Ibrahim Dawayya, said: “The Director-General of the Board, Alhaji Abdullahi Osaze, is supposed to respond on pension policy in this state, but he is busy.”
Meanwhile, a senior officer with the Borno State Pension Office in Maiduguri who preferred anonymity said successive governments did not make efforts to join the Contributory Pension Scheme, “for reasons best known to them.”
He said state and local government employees are yet to open accounts with Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs).
The officer said the inability to join the scheme had left the state lagging behind its peers in pension matters.
He, however, said Governor Babagana Zulum had early this year set up a committee to work out a plan on joining the scheme immediately.
“The permanent secretary was supposed to go to Jigawa State with her team and understudy the scheme to properly implement it here. The exercise was not as successful as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. I believe, very soon, the team will be in Jigawa, and when they return, the scheme will become operational,” the officer said.
Some workers said they hope the federal government will put an instrument that will compel states to comply with the new pension scheme.
“Honestly most of the governors are putting our lives in jeopardy by not complying with the new pension scheme,” Said Shehu Salihu, a civil servant in one of the states in North-West.
“I think the idea of the new scheme is to protect workers, to assure them that after they retire, there is something for them.
“But it seems most of the governors are only thinking about themselves and their families. They find pleasure when they see retirees wandering the streets begging and unable to feed.
“These are some of the things that make civil servants corrupt because when you know that at the end of the day you will not be able to access your pension, or the savings have been pilfered, you will be left with no option than to steal when you have the opportunity while in office,” he said.
Rahila Sam, a school teacher in one of the states in North Central, said she does not support the idea of giving pension funds to governors.
“The governors should trim down their security votes and cut down their severance package. They should also prioritize their projects. They should look for other ways and borrow because pension funds are not for them.
“I think they have exhausted all avenues of borrowing and there is nothing to show for that. So, I don’t think if they would do something serious even if they get the pension fund,” she said.
ELEVATION OF OLU-ADDE OF EKINRIN-ADDE ROYAL STOOL TO FIRST CLASS STATUS BY THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF KOGI STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY YAHAYA ADOZA BELLO: HEARTY APPRECIATION
His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello, Kogi State Governor, Government House, Lokoja.
Through: The Honourable Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
Your Excellency Sir,
With gratitude in our hearts and deep appreciation to your excellency,
we write to convey the eternal joy of the entire people of Ekinrin-Adde, home and in diaspora, for the great honour done to our community by your administration through the elevation of the stool of Olu-Adde of Ekinrin-Adde to the status of First Class in the Kogi State Traditional Council.
Our people and generations to come owe your excellency and your administration a great depth of gratitude for this unprecedented demonstration of goodwill and love. Whenever the history of Ekinrin-Adde is read, a special place of honour will always be reserved for you.You have really made us proud.
While wishing your Excellency’s administration continued success, we pray that God will take you from glory to higher glory in your future political aspirations and endeavors. we register our profound appreciation to your Excellency and your very dynamic and digital team of creative thinkers for this monumental elevation. You can always count on our support for your administration.
Elder Deinde .T. Komolafe (National General Secretary Ekinrin-Adde Community Development Association) on behalf of HRM Oba Anthony Bamigbaiye Idowu, AHEMAWORO 1, The Olu-adde of Ekinrin-Adde, The Olu-Adde in Council, the good people of Ekinrin-Adde Community Home and Abroad.
First Bank:We’re Yet To Receive Notice Of Otedola’s Majority Shares
Following the report of the founder and chairman of the Geregu Energy Group, Femi Otedola, acquiring the majority shares of FIrst Bank, FBN Holdings (FBNH) Plc, the Company stated it is yet to receive notification to that effect.
According to the statement sent by FBNH to the investing public on the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited signed by the company secretary, Seye Kosoko, the attention of FBNH had been drawn to media reports on October 22, 2020 purporting that a certain individual has acquired significant shareholding interest in the Company, therefore making him the majority shareholder in the Company.
The statement further said that “As a listed Company, the shares of FBNH are publicly traded and sale and acquisition of shares is expected in the normal course of business. We operate in a regulated enrolment, which requires notification of significant shareholding by shareholders to the Company, where shares are held in different vehicles, further to which the Company will notify the regulators and the public as appropriate.
FBNH stated it is yet to receive any notification from the individual mentioned in the media report of such acquisitions, saying that FBNH will always notify the appropriate agencies and authorities whenever it receives any notice of significant shareholding by the shareholders and the company’s registrars.
It was reported that Otedola has been acquiring the shares of the FBNH through a vehicle, Calvados Global Services Limited. It is also likely that there could be other vehicles associated with Otedola who may have also been mopping up shares. FBNH currently has 34.7 billion of its shares floating freely meaning it is held by diverse shareholders. This makes the shares easy to acquire on the stock exchange.
Nairametrics said, “Otedola, through his proxies and investing vehicles, now owns over five per cent of the bank, setting himself up to be the single largest shareholder of the bank.
In the first half (H1) of the year ended June 30, 2021, FBNH reported a profit after tax of N38 billion up from N35 billion same period in 2020. Speaking on the H1 performance of the Company, the Group managing director, U.K. Eke said, “FBN Holdings delivered a resilient performance in the half year, reflective of our focus on strengthening the organisation in recent years.
“We remain committed to our strategic objective of driving further stability in performance, as well as delivering sustainable growth over the years to come. In line with our focus on revenue diversification, we continue to grow our non-interest income as we progressively become a more transaction-led institution and implement innovative and technological driven measures to improve overall efficiency.
“The macro and socio-economic conditions remain challenging given the COVID-19 pandemic and the low-interest rates environment. While these points negatively impacted overall revenue generation, we are confident that FBNH can navigate this challenging operating environment and keep delivering sustained innovative solutions that enrich customer experience as well as deepen financial inclusion.”
Omu Resort Takes Corporate Social Responsibility To New Level
Nigeria’s foremost resort, Omu Resort has taken its commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), to an all-new height.
The family recreational and educational center located in the rainforest of Bogije, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos State boasts a plethora of fun activities including a state-of-the-art freshwater Seaworld, Museum, Animal Kingdom, Green House, Wax Museum, and an array of amusement rides.
The management of Omu Resort recently took its CSR works to a new height when in collaboration with the Bogije Branch of the Dredgers Association of Nigeria (DAN), it kicked off a multi-million Naira rehabilitation of the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Way.
Prior to now, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Way was one of the worst in the community; however, it took a turn for the better years back when Omu Resort kick-started an annual intervention project of maintaining the road.
However, the road has now taken a whole new look with the Bogije Branch of DAN collaborating with Omu Resort leading to the massive rehabilitation currently going on.
Speaking on what motivated the current exhaustive rehabilitation of the road, the General Manager of Omu Resort, Moji Ibaze said: “We have constantly paid year-in-year-out to have the road maintained, we are aware of the fact that we had invested billions in our resort. There was just no point having such a tourist attraction in place with no accessible roads.
“We had made overtures to the Lagos State government, but they have not been forthcoming. This year, the road had been unmotorable, hence the decision to partner with the Bogije branch of the Dredgers Association of Nigeria and do a thorough overhaul of the road.
“Needless to say that more work still needs to be done in the area of desilting and drainage flow.”
Reacting to the ongoing rehabilitation, Akeem Alade, a shop owner at Bogije market described the ongoing work on the road as a welcomed development. According to him, the road had been a pity sight, as traders at the Bogije Market are known to always empty their dirt into the drainage. When men are seen evacuating the waste, all they do is dump it by the roadside except on rare occasions when they cart them away, they hardly take the waste away, so they end up washing up into the drainage again when it rains. He noted that with the new look of the road; motorists and other road users would heavy a sigh of relief.
“This is a welcome development; you need to see what this road was like before this intervention. It has taken the duo of the resort and the association to bail us out of this situation and we really appreciate their effort.”
Bayo Adelaja while appreciating the efforts of those behind the road maintenance project wondered when it became the responsibility of associations and owners of businesses concerns to maintain roads, as he questioned the seemingly carefree attitude of the political representatives of the community.
“It is a shame that the politicians that we elected to represent us hardly think of our interest, the maintenance of this road is supposed to be the government’s business, but it has taken two private entities to solve a major challenge that dates back several years, what are the political representatives that we have at the federal, state and local government level doing, some of them even access this road?”
Omu Resort has become notable for treating both local and international guests a unique experience of the wonders of nature.
Sighted on a serene landmass of approximately 22 hectares and boarded to the North by the imposing clear waters of Omu Creek, the resort offers menicus coaster, water slides, a speed boat ride among others.
Having expanded its water slides to include speed slides and with the arrival of the resort’s Giraffes, Elan and Zebras, Omu Resort is definitely the place to be.
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