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Pension: President Buhari pledges to restore dignity of retired public servants

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday inaugurated Micro Pension Plan with a pledge to restore the dignity of public servants, who worked tirelessly and sacrificed for the greatness of Nigeria.

Speaking at the launch of Micro Pension Plan, organized by National Pension Commission at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja, the president assured that the Federal Government would rev up the process of sanitizing the pensions system.

According to him, retired public servants deserve better treatment and effective service that meets their needs to carry on after retirement, promising to remove the “rot within the pension system’’.

“I want to assure all Nigerians that this Government remains committed to resolving all pending issues on pension payment in the federal public sector despite the lean resources of Government.

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“The dignity of retired public servants who sacrificed their lives for this country will be restored.

“We will ensure all hard working Nigerians in the private sector, both formal and informal, can retire without fear.

“We have already started on this journey. We must all come together to ensure these reforms are fully implemented and their positive impact is felt by the rightful beneficiaries,’’ he said.

The President noted that the Federal Government will continue to support the National Pension Commission to ensure a successful roll-out of the Micro Pension Plan, which will capture citizens that were not fully captured in the formal corporate sector.

He said trade associations, unions, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders in the informal sector should join hands with the government and pensions industry to enlighten their members and general public on the benefits of Micro Pension Plan.

“Today, millions of traders, farmers and other entrepreneurs in various cottage industries are completely excluded from the different pension programs in existence.

“The Micro Pension Plan is the natural next step. The program guarantees that when these hard working citizens retire, they can still live in dignity and comfort,’’ he said.

President Buhari said the government had provided grants, concessionary loans and technical support through Small and Medium Enterprises  clinics to farmers, traders and SMEs as  part of efforts to diversify the economy and create a more inclusive and enabling environment for all Nigerians

At the event, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said the new scheme would provide more security for Nigerians in the informal sector, and expand the country’s pension coverage as well as boost the economy.

“This scheme also benefits the government because it has the potential to generate a pool for investible long term funds that can drive economic development,’’ he said.

In her remarks, the Acting Director General of National Pensions Commission, Hajiya Aisha Dahir–Umar, said the Contributory Pension Scheme had recorded huge success since it was launched in 2004, with the formation of long term domestic capital, represented by N8.7 trillion worth of pension assets as at Jan. 2019.

“The Micro Pension Plan is remarkable because it unveils a unique financial product, which democratizes the saving culture in Nigeria in a systematic and efficient manner,’’ she added.

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Dahir–Umar said the plan was designed after wide consultations with stakeholders, noting that “the product is flexible with contribution amount and channel of remittance of contributions to respective pension accounts.’’

She further explained that the new pension scheme would afford people in the informal sector an opportunity to contribute daily, weekly or monthly.

She said: “A prospective Micro Pension contributor is required to open a Retirement Savings Account (RSA) by completing a physical or electronic registration form with a Pension Funds Administrator (PFA) of his/her choice.

“The contributors may make contributions daily, weekly, monthly or as may be convenient to them. Every contribution shall be split into two, comprising 40% for contingent withdrawal and 60% .for retirement benefits.

“The contributor may, based on his/her needs, periodically withdraw the total or part of the balance of the contingent portion of his/her RSA, including all accrued investment income thereto.

“The contributor may also choose to convert the contingent portion of the contributions to the retirement benefits portion.’’

According to her, a new department has been created specifically to monitor activities of the Micro Pension Plan, and to ensure compliance with the guidelines of the scheme and manage customer complains.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that President Buhari supervised the registration of a beneficiary, Malam Sagir Shawai, a Keke NAPEP operator in Karu, Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, into the new scheme.(NAN)