By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
TRADE Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, has said the rank and file in the nation’s armed forces will suffer in the long run from the exit of the military from the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS.
President of TUC, Comrade Peter Esele, while blaming the military hierarchy for the exit, argued that though senior officers may not find it difficult to get their pension and gratuities at retirement, the junior officials may not be so lucky.
According to him, “TUC went to the National Assembly and we tried to appeal to the National Assembly not to allow the military to pull out but to no avail. One of the reasons why we were saying that is that the military hierarchy at the very top said that at a particular time they would not be getting as much as they expect, claiming they had reform their pension board.
But what I keep saying is one, if there is any irregularity in the military pension board, do you expect a corporal to go and demand for his pension as a Brigade General would do? He dares not because the military structure is an autocratic and they would allow it.
But our investigation is that the junior workers like the corporal and the Sergeant and other rank and file, prefer to be in the Contributing Pension Scheme, CPS, but the military hierarchy said no. The hierarchy said that was what it wanted. If other security agencies are also planning to do the same thing, it is a band wagon effect.”
“But we must not fail to warn, that sooner or later, they will find out that they have made a very grievous mistake. If because you have a good man or woman at the helm of the military pension board today, it does not mean that tomorrow you will continue to have a good man or woman there.
I have always believed that I do not need to see you before you pay me my pension that is what the CPS is all about. With my mobile phone I know how much I am contributing and I know how much is there as at yesterday because my Pension Fund Administrator, PFA, gave me a lot of this information and when I retire tomorrow, when they are paying me my money it will be credited to my account and I don’t need to see the PFA.
I hope that military retirees would not be subjected to abuses that were there and I bet you, you cannot rule out one form of abuse or the other because once you have a systemic failure, anything can happen.”
Esele said “I do not really know what their problems are. If they want their contribution to be increased, they can get that done through federal government. They can demand that the government pays their entire contributions as was canvassed by labour during public hearings leading to Pension Reform Act, PRA, 2004, and if they want government to increase it by 20 per cent, fine. But to pull out of CPS, we believe it is a great disservice to the rank and file.”