Aisha Dahir-Umar, Chief Executive of the National Pensions Commission (PenCom), says the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has no reason to leave the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
Dahir-Umar said so on Tuesday during the public hearing on a bill to exclude the NPF from the CPS and allow a pensioner to collect at least 75% of his pension benefits.
the law Project seeks to amend section 5(1) of the Pensions Reform Act 2014, to include NPF officers in the categories of persons exempt from contributory pension.
Members of the armed forces, intelligence and secret services are exempt from the regime.
Speaking at the hearing, the chief executive said the federal government has so far made CPS sustainable for its workers, including those in the private sector.
She said the development has saved and invested huge amounts of money in the country.
She added that the NPF agitations could be resolved administratively, as leaving the regime is not necessary.
“Through the CPS, the government has succeeded in introducing transparency and efficiency. As such, the attempt to leave the police did not start today, and that has been a recurring decimal,” Dahir-Umar said.
“The reason given by the police is that the amount of benefits payable to officers of the force who have retired is low, as such it is a small problem which the salary increase can solve.
“The pension is based on salary, and as long as the officers’ salary continues, there is no need to go out.
“Given the challenges of CPS, it’s not perfect because there’s no system that’s completely effective.”
Dahir-Umar further said that since 2004, the commission had increased contributions from 15% to 18%, adding that the 2014 Pension Reform Act (PRA) also allows the payment of additional benefits and is not a criminal offense if it is not paid.
“18% is a mandatory minimum that every employer is expected to pay, depending on affordability the employer can do more,” she said.
“The second bill seeks to amend sections I (C) 7 (2) 8 (1) 18, 24 and 99 of the PRA CAP50 LFN 2014 providing that a pensioner must receive at least 75% of his pension benefits immediately after retirement and criminalizing unjustified delays in the payment of pensions (BR 1000).
“Section 173 of the 1999 Constitution as amended states that everyone who has worked and retired is entitled to periodic payment, and the second bill is against the Constitution.
“Operators cannot be criminalized because they can only pay if the government gives them money, so if they don’t pay you can’t send them to jail.”
For his part, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, represented by Peter Akpatason, said the exercise was aimed at improving the well-being of the elderly.
“We hope the bill will provide the needed solution, and we hope it will improve the pension sector,” Gbajabiamila said.
“I urge stakeholders to make critical contributions that will improve the lives of retirees.”
Baba Alkali, Inspector General of Police, represented by Salisu Lemu, Deputy Inspector General of Police for Operations, said the NPF should be given equal treatment with the Armed Forces due to the unpleasant experiences of officers in the program .