By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
TRADE Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, has described year 2012 as a very terrible year for the nation’s pensioners, even as he commended the feat of the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS. Speaking with Pension and You, President-General of TUC, Comrade Peter Esele, faulted those expressing reservations about the Pension Reform Act, PRA 2004 and CPS, saying “I will say it categorically that the contributing pension scheme is 100 per cent intact. Nobody can illegally access the money in the scheme and the way the act is, makes me very confident and happy that my own pension is protected.”
According to him, “The plight of the pensioners in the country is very pathetic and terrible especially in 2012. With all the probes and investigations, one had expected the better service for the pensioners, instead, it worsened.
“What happened in the National Assembly during the investigation of Pension fraud, as late Fela Anikulapo would say “Na Padi Padi government we dey” and that is what we have been running all the years. The Special Task force on Pension headed by Abdulraman Maina, did nothing other than to compound the woes of the pensioners.
“If things were done the way they were meant to, Maina should be facing trial today. First, the team was supposed to seat for 90 days and it has gone on for a year, two years and it is still on.
“You can ask some basic questions; Maina said the task force recovered some billions of naira, let the Minister of Finance tell us where billions are. Nobody can show you.”
“There have been several meetings that have taken place between National Pension Commission, PenCom, and the office of Head of service on what should be done. But as I speak with you, nothing has been done. So, all these fraud stories are still under that old scheme.
“I can tell you that in the pension office of the Head of Service, there are still going to be more problems. Look for example, every time they demand that Bio-metrics should be done. If you are paying a worker, there are ways, there are applications you can apply.
“The pensioner goes to the bank, his money is paid into the bank, so if he goes to the bank and whenever he collects his money, he does his finger print and that is collected as his data.
“Whenever he stops collecting the money it is either he has fallen ill or he is dead. If someone else collects his money, his finger print would show. So you don’t need to call and spend money to do verification all the times. Once you do verification once, it should be enough.”
Esele lamented that “this country is the only place that you do verification every now and then, and at the end of the day those who have served this country are dying on the queues.