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Reactions trail proposed bill exempting Police from Pension Scheme

Reactions trail proposed bill exempting Police from Pension Scheme

OrderPaperToday –
Mixed reactions on Tuesday, trailed the proposed exit of the Nigeria Police Force from the Contributory Pension Scheme.

Stakeholders like the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), appeared at a public hearing organised in Abuja on the Bill For An Act To Amend The Pension Reform Act (2014) To Provide For The Exemption Of The Nigeria Police Force From The Contributory Pension Scheme And For Related Matters.

The hearing was also for A Bill For An Act To Amend Sections 1(C), 7(2), 8(1), 18, 24 And 99 Of The Pension Reform Act, Cap P50 LFN 2014 By Providing That A Pensioner Shall Receive At Least 75% Of His Retirement Benefits Immediately Upon Retirement And Criminalise The Undue Delay In The Payment Of Pensions And For Related Matters by the House Committee on Pensions.

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For Bill Sponsor, Francis Ejiroghene Waive, operating under the current pension scheme has been both unpalatable and regrettable for the retirees of the Nigerian Police Force.

“For example, the highest retirement benefit of a Deputy Superintendent of Police under this obnoxious pension scheme is N2.5m and that of Assistant Superintendent of Police is N1.5m while their equivalent in Army (captain) and DSS are paid N12.8m and N10.3m respectively.

Upon retirement, the monthly take-home of a retired Police DSP is just N31,600 while that of a Captain; an equivalent in the Army is N180,000. While for a Police Inspector is N15,000, a warrant Officer, the Army equivalent to a Police Inspector takes home N120,000. Ladies and gentlemen, what is good for the goose is good for the gander,” he said.

He said in these days of insecurity across the nation, exempting the police from the obnoxious Contributory Pension Scheme could just be the magic to motivate officers and men of the Force to go the extra mile and save the country.

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Presenting the position of the NLC at the hearing, Uche Ekwe, said it would imply an additional financial burden on the Federal Government by way of unsustainable pension obligations. He also added that if the agencies of Government are being exempted from the CPS, then it should not be forced on others.

“Where will the money to fund the Defined Benefits Scheme for the exempted officers come from? Will it still be funded from the national budget that currently is hardly sufficient to fund other commitments of Government, including healthcare and social security?

“What has changed in the management of Defined Benefits Scheme especially in the light of news arrests and convictions of individuals involved in the mismanagement of pensions?” he queried.

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Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), Hajiya Aisha Dahir-Umar who also opposed the exit of the police said all their issues can be resolved within the scheme.

According to her, exiting the CPS is not the solution because pension is a function of salary. She explained that as long as the police salary remains poor, their pension under any scheme would be poor.

“The reason the police has always failed to exit is that because the police employer (FG) has found out that the resolutions to challenges the police is facing are all administrative and are surmountable without exiting the CPS.

They can be addressed within the framework of the CPS. The government has seen that there is no need to exit a successful scheme that is why it has continuously rejected to approve it,” she said.

She also opposed the payment of 75 percent of pension upon retirement.

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The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, however, called for the removal of the police from the scheme as it was not in their interest.

Represented by Deputy Inspector General of Police, Sanusi Lemu, Alkali said the Police should be exited from the scheme like the Armed Forces and other intelligence services.

This for him is especially because of its role as the lead agency saddled with the responsibility of maintaining internal security, law and order in the country, with attendant risk and sacrifices, including the supreme sacrifice.

Alkali further said that the unpleasant experiences of retired police officers under the present scheme have the tendency to demotivate officers and men. He noted that it will also serve as an incentive for corrupt practices in a bid to avoid a similar fate upon eventual retirement.

He added that the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force is convinced that the amendment being proposed would not only significantly address the age-long challenges associated with the pension administration in the force. But that it would be in the overall best interest of the entire members of the force, both retired and serving police officers.

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The NLC said Government would be unable to sustain pension payment under the Defined Benefits Scheme.

“This is because exemption of the personnel of the NPF would imply additional financial burden on the Federal Government by way of unsustainable pension obligations.

Statistics from the pension industry indicate that the Federal Government would need over N1 trillion to finance the exemption of the police personnel from the CPS. This liability is expected to significantly increase with the proposed yearly recruitment of 10,000 personnel into the police force as announced by the Federal Government.

The Federal Government is already overburdened with the payment of pensions under the Defined Benefits Scheme as illustrated by the 2022 Appropriation Act, which made a provision under the Service Wide Vote for the sum of N577.3 billion as total allocation for Pension and Gratuities.”

READ ALSO: Reps move to exempt Police from PenCom

The NLC recommended that issues of the inadequacy of retirement benefits in the RSA, always posited by the proponents of exempting the Nigeria Police, could be sufficiently addressed within the framework of the CPS.

It thus called on the Government to enhance the salary of the Nigeria Police personnel and restore the payment of gratuity to workers upon their retirement. The Congress also opposed the amendment of the Pension Act to enable pensioners collect 75 percent of their pension upon retirement.

“Incidentally, gratuity has not been abolished by the PRA 2014.”

The majority of stakeholders at the public hearing backed the exemption of the police from the scheme.

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