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Obasanjo, other stakeholders applaud successes of pension scheme as union of pensioners seeks further improvements

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Twenty years after the introduction of landmark reform into the nation’s pension industry, stakeholders are unanimous that the 2004 pension reform act which introduced the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) has remained successful

One of the major stakeholders to applaud the successes of CPS is Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo who stated that he was pleasantly surprised at the growth of the pension assets over the last 20 years.

This came as National Union of Pensioners Contributory Pension Scheme (NUPCPS) stated that the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria’s Pension administration. They stated this when they paid a courtesy visit to the CEO of the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp) Mr. Oguche Agudah, recently.

The pensioners who were represented by their executives from various states of the Federation mentioned that the way that the CPS is framed is in the best interest of pensioners if implemented to the letter. They said the CPS has eliminated fraud, has given them certainty of payments of pensions, and has also allowed them to be able to plan.

Having said this however, they said there are aspects of the CPS that can be improved upon, and they called on the PenOp CEO to engage with other stakeholders to ensure that these things are looked into. Some of the things they mentioned had to do with constant engagement with the pensioners by the industry, the enhancement of their pensions and more transparency in terms of how their returns are shown to them.

However, Obasanjo  mentioned that when his administration instituted the pension reforms and pushed to have a bill to reform the way pension administration were done in Nigeria, they did not think that the assets will grow this quickly and have the positive effect it has had so far. He stated this in a recent interview with the Chief Executive of the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp), Oguche Agudah. The interview was held as part of events to mark twenty years of pension reforms in Nigeria.

Going down memory lane, President Obasanjo said that one of the majorreasons for the reform washis pain at seeing so many pensioners queuing up to collect their pensions during his first term in office, especially military men who had served the Nation. With this in mind, he resolved to see how the government could make pension management and administration private sector driven and more in line with global best practices.

When asked why they chose Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) for Nigeria, He said “it’s simple, we just see what other countries are doing and if it’s good for us we copy it and adapt. There is no harm in copying if we see what other countries are doing and it’s good for them, we adapt”.In addition, he said what the pension industry needs to do now is to see how the pension assets that have been saved over the years can help more in national development, especially infrastructure investments in a safe and sustainable manner that does not jeopardize people’s pensions.

President Obasanjo was speaking as part of the activities to mark twenty years of pension reforms in Nigeria. The year 2024 marks 20 years since the initial pension reform act was signed. The Pension reform Act was the bedrock of a cross cutting committee that worked on pension reforms in Nigeria which culminated in the drafting and enactment of the pension reform act which essentially professionalized pensions management in Nigeria, moved the  management to the private sector and helped to wean the government from unsustainable pension liabilities.

Responding to the National Union of Pensioners Contributory Pension Scheme CEO of PenOp, Oguche Agudah, said that pensioners are the reason the industry exists and that all workers in the pension space have the pensioners to thank for their jobs. He commended the pensioners for giving their all to their country and their organizations in their twilight years and he further added that the pension industry and the country still needs to tap from wealth of experience that they have gathered over the years. He assured the pensioners that the pension industry is committed to the welfare of the pensioners, will continue to listen and engage with them ever so often to hear them out. He assured them Pension Fund Operators are working daily to ensure the best outcomes for pensioners.

The chairman of the NUPCPS, Mr Nwaiwu thanked Mr. Agudah for his listening ear and his desire to champion the cause of pensioners. He also thanked him for his support over the years and tasked him not to relenting in his efforts to make sure the impact of the CPS is felt maximally by the pensioners.

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