NLC President Advocates Return to Old Pension Scheme, Denounces Current System as “Death Sentence”.

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By Daniel Peters.

Joe Ajaero.
The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, has strongly criticized Nigeria’s current pension scheme, describing it as a “death sentence” for retirees. Speaking at the 2024 National Pre-retirement summit in Abuja, Ajaero called for a return to the old pension regime, arguing that the current system fails to fulfill its fundamental purpose of providing security and peace of mind to retired workers.

A retiree being assisted to walk by by his colleagues.
Photo credit: Google.

The summit, themed “Challenges, Strategies, Prospects, and Opportunities at Retirement in Nigeria,” was organized by XEM, a prominent capacity development hub in Africa.

Ajaero emphasized that retirement should be a period of fulfillment and security, not anxiety and financial distress. He highlighted the instability of the Nigerian Naira as a medium for storing pensions, noting its continuous depreciation over the years. This instability, he argued, undermines the value of retirees’ contributions and fails to provide a stable financial base for their retirement years.

“The pension scheme, as it currently stands in Nigeria, unfortunately falls short of its fundamental purpose; to provide for workers in their old age,” Ajaero stated. He pointed out widespread issues such as the alleged federal government debt of nearly N260 billion in pension arrears, with additional debts in federal parastatals and private sector companies. Many retirees, he added, face health challenges and financial hardship due to the inadequacies of the current pension system.

Ajaero criticized the management of non-contributory pension funds, citing instances of mismanagement and lack of accountability. He called for stronger regulatory measures to protect pension funds from exploitation and ensure they serve their intended purpose effectively.

Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, acknowledged the challenges and reassured attendees that the government is committed to improving the welfare of workers. She outlined initiatives aimed at enhancing staff welfare and supporting retirees through strategic partnerships with institutions like the Institute of Public Service of Nigeria and the Bank of Agriculture.

George Akume, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), represented by Dr. Maurice Mbaeri, Permanent Secretary, General Services, Office of the SGF, highlighted the government’s efforts to empower public servants and prepare them for retirement.

Dr. Eugenia Ndukwe, Convener of the summit, emphasized the importance of creating a supportive ecosystem for retiring Nigerians, enabling them to transition smoothly and maintain financial stability in their post-work years.

The call for reforming Nigeria’s pension system resonates amidst growing concerns over the welfare of retirees and the sustainability of pension funds in the country.
Edited by Dada Ahmed.

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