Director-General, National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, on Friday said the Federal Government would soon clear about N20 billion pension arrears it owed public servant retirees.
Anohu-Amazu told NAN in Lagos that the commission was working assiduously with government to pay the arrears owed civil servants in 2015.
She expressed regrets that some of retirees had not been able to access their pension even at presentation of bonds issued to them by government. “This is so because there aren’t enough resources from the Federal Government to meet the obligation,” she said. She said the commission had started advocating for the need by the Federal Government to prioritise pension payment,to ensure that retirees got their entitlements “Though we are aware of competitive demand on Federal Government’s dwindling resources but pension payments must be given priority. “But with the outcome of the meeting with Federal Government last week, our hope is raised. “We don’t mind if Federal Government go borrowing; the pension arrears must be paid because the pensioners are vulnerable than those presently in employment. ‘’The government must pay these accrued rights once and for all,’’ she said. She explained that the commission had requested N91 billion for civil servants that would retire in 2016, ‘’but to our surprise, we only see N50 billion in budget, this means there will be N41 billion deficit. “This does happen only in public sector, it doesn’t happen in private sector. “This is the reason we are advocating that Federal Governmet must prioritise pension payment.” Anohu-Amazu said that the commission was extending the same gesture to all the 36 states in the country. “As from next week, we will be visiting some states to tackle this accrued rights challenges. “We are even aware that there are ghost claimants of pensions; we will tackle that,” she said. Reacting to the recent proposal by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, to use part of the pension fund to build the required infrastructure for rapid development in the country, Anohu-Amazu said PenCom had guidelines on investment decisions. She said PenCom would not operate outside the guidelines. The director-general urged Nigerians to believe in the resilience of the commission to them. NAN reports that the total pension fund now stands at N5.3 trillion.