Don’t borrow pension fund, Labour warns FG

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The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, has condemned the plans by the Federal Government to borrow N2trn from the pension fund to provide infrastructure, saying it is against the law.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, Ayuba also lamented the security challenges facing the country.

He said, “We do recall vividly that one of the cardinal campaign promises that brought Muhammadu Buhari to power in 2015 was his promise to restore security to a traumatised people and a nation torn by strife, especially, the insurgency in the North-East.

“However, of recent, and on a sustainable basis, the Boko Haram insurgents have been hitting soft and military targets on a scale and regularity that makes one wonder if the gains of the past have not been reversed or wiped out.

“For example, at a stage, all the access roads leading to Maiduguri were taken over by the insurgents often dressed in military fatigue. Bus loads of commuters were either abducted or slaughtered.

“We seem to have come full circle. And all segments of our society including the National Assembly are agreed that time has come for new thinking, new strategies and hard decisions. Accordingly, we urge Mr President to make decisive decisions to reverse the current ugly narrative.”

The labour chief said the FG should not tamper with the pension fund, saying it “is fully funded by workers and employers”.

He said, “Government need to be reminded that the contributory pension scheme, which came into being in 2004, is fully funded by workers and employers and it’s privately managed by Pension Fund Administrators. The funds are in the individual Retirement Savings Account of beneficiaries.

“It is important to stress that the N10trn pension fund is not warehoused in the pension commission which is the regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Pension Fund Administrator or the pension fund custodian.

“The fund is warehoused in the private individual Retirement Savings Accounts of contributors, who are workers and beneficiaries.

“The pension fund administrators are investing for maximum return on investment for the benefit of the beneficiary and not borrowing.

“It is curious that labour as a critical stakeholder as provided in the act were not consulted. It is equally a violation of the provisions of the Pension Act five years down the line, the board of PENCOM statutorily saddled with taking or approving decisions as weighty as this has not been constituted.

“Our concern is further deepened by the fact that at the moment, government’s indebtedness to pensioners in accrued rights, pension differentials, minimum pension guaranty, pension increase, etc., are in excess of N400bn

“We strongly advise Federal Government to shelve its plan and not to do anything that will undermine the integrity of the pension scheme. We will continue to watch over the safety of the funds to protect the interest of workers and pensioners.”

Read Also: Nigerians can’t continue going overseas for treatment, says President Buhari

Meanwhile, labour has said 14 states have commenced full payment of the N30,000 new minimum wage.

After the Federal Government reached an agreement with labour over the consequential increase in federal civil servants’ salaries on October 18, 2019, governors were expected to immediately begin negotiations with labour on the new minimum wage but it didn’t happen, forcing labour to issue a December 31, 2019 ultimatum.

The NLC revealed that workers in Cross River, Enugu and Sokoto states had agreed with their governors, but nothing had been documented.

The NLC named the compliant states as Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Lagos, Ondo, Sokoto and Yobe, as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

Hexemty Reports

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