Ebonyi State government has signed into Law Contributory Pension Bill aimed at establishing a uniformed set of rules, regulations and standard in the administration and payment of retirement benefits to Civil and Public Servants in the State.
Performing the function at Government House Abakaliki, Governor David Umahi explained that the Scheme would address the issue of corruption in the management of pension funds in the state.
When the administration of Chief David Umahi came on board, it reportedly uncovered fraudulent activities in the administration of Local Government Pension Fund running into Six Hundred Million Naira.
Also worrisome was non-payment of gratuities to Civil servants in the state since 1993 totaling about Six Billion Naira.
Governor Umahi described the implementation of the Contributory Pension as a bold step towards addressing the issues noting that the state government would be contributing five percent to the Scheme monthly.
“The law must be hundred percent implemented in February salary of civil servants and our own contribution to the Pension Fund, so by the powers of this constitution, the Local Government Pension Board is hereby dissolved new one will be reconstituted and new one will also emerge for the state”
Chief Umahi emphasized that the State government had secured loan from the Paris Club to settle Gratuities of retired Public and Civil servants which would commence after the compilation and verification of the beneficiaries.
The Speaker State House of Assembly, Chief Francis Nwifuru stated that a public hearing was organized during the consideration of the Bill to accommodate the interest of workers as well as those in the Private sector.
“Section six of this law holistically exempted all employees who have three years or less to retire from the service from the scheme to have a credible Pension Reform Law”
Reacting to the development, the Chairman Nigeria Labour Congress Comrade Ikechukwu Nwafor called on the government to follow due process in the implementation of the scheme in line with the Pension Reform Act 2014 as amended.
“There are so many steps that should be followed but most importantly generation of codes for Ministries, Department and Agencies and the appoint Pension Fund Administrators which have not being done”.
“We call for the amendment of the law so that the state government can contribute ten percent and workers eight percent as required by the Pension Reform Act”.
On their part, the TUC Chairman Comrade Michael Nwonwu and his Counterpart in the Public Service Joint Negotiating Council Trade Union side, Comrade Patrick Ekwe maintained that the rules governing contributory pension should be implemented before deductions were made from workers’ salaries.