Onu Abdullahi, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) Kogi Chapter, has called on the State Government to transfer the state pensioners into the Contributory Pension Scheme.
He said this would reduce difficulties pensioners faced in accessing payment of their gratuities and pensions after retirement from the state public service.
Abdullahi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lokoja that the state was yet to key into the scheme since its inception in 2004 and that retirees had been facing a lot of difficulties accessing their benefits.
He said that as a result of complications in the old system of pension administration which currently operated in the state, many pensioners had difficulty accessing their gratuities and eventually died without getting a kobo from their entitlements.
“The previous administrations paid full and final gratuities to retiree up to 2001. From 2002 to date, anybody that tells you that he has collected between 20 per cent or 30 per cent of his or her gratuity is lying.
“Since the creation of Kogi in 1991, we have been operating the old pension scheme whereby you retire and you cannot take your gratuity.
“Until 2010, it used to takes between two years and three years after retirement for a pensioner to be placed on monthly pension allowance.
“Most of our members have died without accessing a kobo of their gratuity and the reason is that they are not captured by the new contributory pension scheme.
“PENCOM as it is today is not only the best but the utmost.
“If you have nine to 10 years to retire and you start contributing from now, by the time you are retiring, getting your gratuity will not be a problem, no barriers and no obstacles at all,” he said.
He lamented that distrust between the government and workers was the reason why the state had continued to handle the payment of pensions and gratuities to its retired workforce.
According to him, the inability of the state and its civil servants to join the scheme is because past administrations saw it as a waste, while the workers thought it was an avenue for extortion.
Abdullahi, however, commended Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi whom he said seemed believed and was poised to key into the contributory pension scheme by all means.
He, therefore, enjoined the state workforce to join hands with the governor in facilitating an immediate enrolment of the state retirees.
He said that, though, his members could no longer benefit from the scheme, those still in service should not miss the opportunity.
“The earlier they encourage the government to enroll them with PENCOM and start operating the new scheme the better for their tomorrow,” he said.