The Federal Government still owed its retirees in the civil service under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) a whooping sum of N85 billion.
The N85 billion is the outstanding accrued pension arrears between June 2019 to date, and this is despite the release of the sum of N7.45 billion as outstanding accrued rights for the pensioners’ payment two weeks ago by the government.
Nigerian Tribune findings revealed that civil servants who retired in the federal civil service cannot get their pensions, or access any fund from their pensions through the Retirement Saving Account, even after a year of retirement.
This, according to General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Elder Actor Zal and the Chairman, NUP Contributory Pension Sector (NUPCPS), Comrade Sylva Nwaiwu, said the N85 billion owed the pensioners by the Federal Government was the reason why retirees from the civil service cannot get their pensions after one year of their retirement.
They both attributed this to the failure of successive administrations since 2007 to pay about 15 years accrued pension right of civil servants who have been in the service pre-2007 when the Contributory Pension Scheme commenced as a result of the implementation of the then-new Contributory Pension Act.
The NUP General Secretary also confirmed that the money owed by the Federal Government as accrued right for civil servants under the contributory pension scheme is N85 billion.
Elder Zal, therefore, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the release of the N85 billion, which he is meant for the accrued right for one year between June 2019 to date.
He said: “We want to appeal to the Federal Government to come to the aid of pensioners who retired under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), because as we speak now, anybody that retires from June 2019 till date cannot access their pension. The reason being that the government is yet to pay up the balance of the accrued right to these pensioners and until that is done they cannot access their Retirement Savings Account (RSA). There is no two ways to it.
“The way at which we are going, the Federal Government is releasing the monthly pension of the contributory pensioners, the accrued right monthly. But the last release made about two weeks ago only covered May 2019. If they release another one now, it will be for June 2019. So, all pensioners on that scheme that fell outside that month will have to wait.
“We are in August 2020. How do you retired and wait for one year before you access your own money that you contributed, simply because the government has not balanced up? That is why we are just appealing to the government to please balance up so that it will be seen that the moment you retired, the following month you begin to enjoy your monthly pension.”
Elder Zal further explained: “The accrued right came about because when this scheme came up in 2007, some workers have already put in different years of service ranging from 10 to 15 years. Instead of the government allowing the scheme to commence with the people that start their service in that particular year, the government forced some people that were already in service to join the scheme.
“Those people were entitled to some compensation and retirement benefits for the previous years they have spent in service before the scheme kicked off. The government said they will calculate it, work it out and pay it into their account. But since that year, they did not pay until these set of people start retiring and it becomes a serious issue.”
The NUP general Secretary explained that it was made difficult for the retirees because the Act establishing the contributory pension did not allow any pensioner to access his fund until all the relevant funds are domiciled in the Retirement Savings Account.
He stated that unless the government balanced it up with the accrued right, which is the money government was owing to them for the services they have rendered pre-2007 before the scheme started, they cannot take anything from their pension.
Comrade Nwaiwu, the chairman, NUP Contributory Pension Sector, said: “We have N62 billion as outstanding accrued pension arrears up to December 2019; while the budget appropriation for the current year, 2020, is N89 billion. We are yet to confirm the exact amount that has been released by the government so far in the current year.”
Comrade Nwaiwu appealed to President Buhari to bail out the sector by releasing the fund to clear the remaining backlogs of pension accrued right to the retirees who retired between June 2019 and now.
“Once this is done, the agonies being experienced in the Contributory Pension Sector will become a thing of the past,” he said.
The Head of Corporate Communications at PenCom, Mr Peter Aghahowa, assured that government was determined to settle the backlog to the retirees.
He explained that PenCom was clearing the backlog of unpaid pensions as funds are released to it; and noted that PenCom has paid up to the month of May of 2019.
He stated that only the Federal Government retired employees who were migrated from the old Defined Benefits Scheme are being owed; adding, “there is a backlog. Funds are being released by the Federal Government and payments are being made. When the Federal Government release more funds, we will pay.”
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