‘N5.779 Billion Pension Fund Missing Under Babangida Aliyu’

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Ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu

From Saka Bolaji, Minna

Niger State Government has disclosed that the sum of N5.779 billion was clearly verified as funds not remitted to the state’s Pension Board in the 7.5percent employer/ employee deductions made on behalf of the state’s Universal Basic Education{SUBEB} and Local Government Councils in the life of the immediate past Peoples Democratic Party{PDP} led -administration between 2007 and March 2015.

The State’s Acting Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ketso, made the disclosure when he declared open a 3-day workshop with a theme: “Sensitization Workshop on Effective Pension Management and Administration in Niger State” held by the State Pension Board, in conjunction with Jiwo Consult Limited and other relevant stakeholders which included the Organized Labour Unions in the state, Civil Society Organizations and Pension Fund Administrations{PFAs} among others.

Ahmed Ketso stated further that the clarification has become imperative against the backdrops of allegations by the State Council of the Nigerian Labour Congress {NLC} that N6.2 billions of the 7.5percent of employer/ employee deductions made on behalf of Niger State Universal Basic Education and Local Government Councils in the State during the period between 2007 and March 2015 was missing .

According to him, “government has carried out a forensic audit of the transactions of Contributory Pension Scheme in the state during the period under review{i.e. 2007-2015} and has established that the sum of N5.779Billions was clearly verified as funds not remitted to the Pension Board”.

Speaking further, he said , government has set up a committee under his leadership to ensure that the stolen funds were recovered to the coffers of government and for the benefit of workers, just as he assured that the state’s pension contributors and indeed all Nigerlites will ensure that every kobo deducted as employers/ employees contributions since the introduction of Contributory Pension Scheme in 2007 till date is accounted for and applied judiciously , in accordance with the law for the benefit of the workers who have worked hard and saved for their rainy days of retirement.

Accordingly he said, “in Niger State, our administration regards pension matters and the welfare of pensioners and retirees as significant aspect of our social responsibility to the people , especially, those who have paid their dues by serving the state meritoriously .

“It is in that regard that we have paid attention to the sector by releasing over N2.6billions for the payment of outstanding pension and gratuity liabilities in the state despite the policy challenges inherited.
“And as a responsible government, we are determined to work with the state legislators and other stakeholders to clear the bureaucratic hurdles to pave way for the implementation of the new pension bill once the State House of Assembly passes it into law”, he maintained.

The Acting Governor appealed to pensioners in the state who were expecting their entitlements on the new reiterated the commitment of the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) led-administration in the state to pension matters.

In his remarks, Director-General, Niger State Pension Board, Alhaji Usman Tinau Muhammad reiterated the earlier position of the board that it was not owing anyone monthly pension both at the state and local government levels .
He added further that the state government in the past two years has largely settled retirees on the old pension scheme retirement benefits but with the exception of the arrears of 6 percent introduced in 2003, 15percent introduced in 2007 and 33percent which took place in 2011.

The Pension Board Boss however expressed his gratitude and those his board members as well as the management and staff of the organization as well as all other stakeholders in the pension value chain in the state for their kind approval of the workshop to take place in Minna.

Tinau Muhammad pointed out that the 3-days Sensitization Workshop would provide the opportunity for them to ask questions and with the view to get more enlightened about the contemporary issues relating to pension matters globally, particularly, in Niger state.

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