By Mustapha Sumaila
Abuja – The current Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) was introduced to address several of the shortcomings of previous Nigerian pension schemes which the former could not achieve in tackling the problems faced by police retirees.
Though, some of the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) licensed and charged with the responsibility still could not fully address the peculiarities of the Police Force like the reconciliation of police personnel data which is crucial for obtaining pension contributions from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and for effective pension administration.
As a result, the Federal Government approved that members of the Nigeria Police Force should continue to be covered under the CPS, with a proviso that a Pension Fund Administrator be incorporated that will cater to the unique needs of the Police and by so doing, effectively manage their pension and other welfare issues.
Other welfare to be addressed by PFAs are Group Life Assurance and Health Insurance Schemes of the members of police force, consequently, this led to the establishment of several PFAs including NPF Pensions Limited.
The NPF Pensions Limited was incorporated with a fully paid share capital of one billion naira and the two major shareholders are; Nigeria Police Welfare Insurance Cooperative Society Ltd and Nigeria Police Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that about N6.1 billion was also paid to pensioners in the old scheme with Police Pension Department (PPD) by Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD in the year 2018.
Speaking on the new scheme, Malam Ahmed Umar, a retired ASP lauded the PFAs for ensuring prompt payment of pension to police retirees in the country.
Umar who retired from active service in 2017 said his PFA had been effective and efficient as his pension was being paid as at when due.
“I get my pension every 15th of the month, this month’s own was paid on 10th because of Sallah, honestly, the PFA is trying, it has been efficient so far.
“My concern has been on the aspect of gratuity, only half of my benefits was paid to me after retirement and I don’t know why” he asked.
He advised PFAs to ensure continued sensitisation of pensioners and retirees about their activities to avoid suspicions.
Reacting, an official from NPF Pension Limited who pleaded for anonymity said a lot of reforms had been carried out in the new scheme to check fraud tendency in the system.
The official explained that no officer working with his organisation was allowed to have access to fund any longer unlike in the past.
“In the past what may have been happening, is that one person regulates and another person is in charge. In this case what we do is to manage the information, the data and everything that has to do with the client.
“If there are things we need to deal with on funds, we instruct our custodian to deal with that accordingly, so we are not exposed to cash.
“In terms of what we have done to mitigate a repeat of what happened in the past, the pension industry is a well regulated industry now. The job of PENCOM is well known to every person as a regulator.
“The pension fund administrator as the name implies is to administer the retirement savings account of every client. And there is the pension fund custodian, who are the custodians of these funds.
“There is no way, our customers will have access to funds. And that makes the pension fund industry one of the most secured industry in the country, because access to funds are limited. It is different from what it used to be,” he explained.
The source disclosed that his organisation had plans to establish a retiree research resettlement report scheme where certain amount would be set aside to ensure that all the police officers who retired and are waiting for their payment, get something no matter how small immediately after retirement.
He added that such money was meant for them to use pending when their pension would p be paid in full.
“So, we are the only PFA that is doing that. Other goodwill we have done is that we have offices where we can meet people so that at every point in time they can always speak to us.
“One of the key challenges of the (PFA) business is ability to have a place where the client can always complain, some of the PFAs in the country do not have offices.
“We have desk officers in all our command information centres, we understand the challenge of the police and because we understand the problem, we are trying to make sure that we get at their beck and call.
“You know that the policemen, most times some of them are aggressive because of how the system is but in spite of their aggressiveness, we will make out time to ensure that our people are attending to them.
“But you know when you are embarking on a journey, you continue to go until you get to your destination and sometimes also we listen to them to ensure that the issues of their welfare is well taken care of,” he said.