By Timothy Choji, Abuja
The Nigerian government says it is poised to resolve all pension issues despite the lean resources at its disposal.
President Muhammadu Buhari stated this on Thursday at the launch of the country’s Micro pension Plan in Abuja.
He said: “I want to assure all Nigerians that this government remains committed to resolving all pension issues and pension payment in the federal public sector despite the lean resources of the government.
”The dignity of retired public servants who sacrificed their lives for this country will be restored. We will ensure all hardworking Nigerians in the private sector; both formal and informal can retire without fear…We have already started on this journey and we must all come together to ensure these reforms are fully implemented and the positive impact is felt by the rightful beneficiaries.”
According to the President, the new Micro Pension scheme was designed to cater for people not gainfully employed in the formal sector.
“This initiative was designed specifically to capture those citizens that are not fully captured in the formal corporate sector. Today millions of traders, farmers and other entrepreneurs in various industries are completely excluded from the different pension programmes in existence,” he said.
Call to embrace scheme
The Nigerian leader therefore called on traders and skilled workers in the non-formal sector to embrace the Micro Pension scheme, in order to make their lives better even in old age.
“At this juncture, I would like to encourage trade associations, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders in the in-formal sector of our economy to join hands with the government and the pension industry to enlighten their members and the general public on the benefits of the Micro Pension plan,” the President said.
President Buhari pledged more support for the National Pension Commission to ensure a successful roll out of the new programme for the benefit of targeted participants.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha said the new scheme has an objective of expanding the country’s pension coverage as well as boost the economy.
“This scheme also benefits the government also benefits the government because it has the potential to generate a pool investible long term funds that can drive economic development. The Micro Pension Plan is an initiative under the contributory pension scheme developed with a strategic objective of expanding the pension coverage to the informal sector of the Nigerian economy,” he said.
The Acting Director general of the Nigeria Pension Commission, Aisha Umar 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. The remaining balance in the contributor upon retirement or attaining the e age of 50 years.”
She added that a new department has been created specifically to monitor activities of the Micro Pension Plan, to ensure compliance with the guidelines of the scheme and manage customer complains.