NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, has reiterated labour’s opposition to any attempt to use the over N6 trillion accumulated contributory pension scheme CPS, fund for anything outside the guidelines stipulated by Pension Reform Act, PRA, saying “We will resist efforts to remove the stringent conditions attached to their investment.”

Wabba Speaking on Pension and State of Pension Administration, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said, “In the last 12 months, we have witnessed serious deterioration in the administration of pension in the country. The incidences of MDAs and other employers withholding deductions from workers’ salaries and not remitting same to their Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs); cases of workers leaving public service and having to wait for up to 15-18 months for their pension issues to be processed; and non-payment for those who are already pensioners – especially by state governments are some of the problems bedeviling the pension system currently in the country.

“Many state governments have used the excuse of the current recession to stall and delay their workers from joining the CPS. Despite all the hitches associated with the CPS, its benefits far outweigh the demerits. A critical factor here is that it is funded, and the funds once paid into the Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs) of workers, are protected from the general mismanagement and misappropriation that we see at virtually all levels of governance.

“We wish to use this medium to call on the Federal Government to prevail on its MDAs and the Ministry of Finance and Accountant General’s office to promptly remit all outstanding deductions to the respective PFAs of workers. We wish to again restate the point we have made over and over again that the over N6 trillion that has accrued in the pension fund since the coming into effect of the 2004 pension reforms is not free money, nor are the funds, government’s.  We will resist efforts to remove the stringent conditions attached to their investment.”

Continuing, Wabba noted that as leaders of the NLC and industrial unions, we have spent the last 12 fighting a series of battles to protect and defend workers’ rights, saying: “This ranged from public sector workers struggles with state governments, majority of whom were not prepared to prioritize payment of workers’ salaries and pensions in the various state civil services.

We fought against retrenchment in both the public and private sectors of the economy; we fought for firms and manufacturers to get foreign exchange allocation to keep our factories from closing, and our jobs moved to other shores, and countries in the sub-region. Within this period, we fought against the steep increase in the price of fuel; and we fought against corruption and for good governance.”