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N12bn Pension scam: Activists call for full scale investigation

BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
CAMPAIGN for Democratic and Workers’ Rights, CDWR, has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to ensure a  for full scale investigation into the over N12 billion Pension scam uncovered in the Pension Department of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and bring everybody directly or remotely connected to crime to book.

The group also faulted the ratio of contribution between employers and employees in the contributory pension scheme where both employers and employees contribute 7.5 % , saying employers should be made to contribute not less than 85%.

CDWR in a statement by its National Secretary, Comrade Victor Osakwe, argued that the Pension Scam was an indication that Profit-Driven Pension Scheme was Corruption Prone and demanded for “Working Class-Oriented Pension System is the Solution.”

The statement read in part: “The recent pension scam involving some top officials in the Pension Unit of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation shows clearly that the pension system being practiced is anti-workers and corruption-prone.

According to news report on March 6, 2011, “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has frozen about N12billion pension funds in some accounts in three banks.

The funds were traced to the decoy accounts of former Director, Pension Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, (name withheld) and a Deputy Director (Finance and Accounts) and  another N60million found in one of the personal accounts of the Deputy Director, (name withheld) was seized too by the anti-graft agency.

It was also reported that top management representatives of most banks were involved in the scam.  CDWR calls for a full scale public investigation to include also elected representative of workers and the pensioners with the aim to bring to justice all those involved in the scam.

It is disheartening that pension funds can be brazenly stolen while pensioners are made to go through harrowing experience including dying while waiting for their meager pension.”

Giving some reasons why the group believes the present pension scheme would not meet the needs of retired workers, CDWR said the “pension scheme that is contributory and privatized will be eroded by the rising wave of inflation and cost of living when workers retire.

The funds contributed are in the hands of profit oriented sharks who are licensed to invest the funds in private ventures.  The funds contributed under this pension scheme are corruption prone.

If pension funds like any other funds are not democratically managed by workers and the public, it is going to be bedeviled with corrupt practices that will end up serving the interest of a few.

In other words, the funds contributed will not make much of a difference when a worker retires because the worth of his or her contribution even if it runs into a few millions of Naira and has not been looted or mismanaged, may be worth in real value far less than the amount contributed.”

“On one hand the pension scheme is making workers to contribute for their future out of the poverty wage being paid to them while on the other hand, it does not in any way take into account of the rising cost of living and inflation.

And this is coupled with the secrecy and undemocratic manner in which the funds are managed. In the absence of radical planning of the productive base of the economy and the state of infrastructure to guarantee good standard of living for all, the pension scheme either bureaucratically controlled by the capitalist state in the name of the public or wholly privatized will not fundamentally meet the needs and aspiration of pensioners.”

The statement called for an “end to this present uneven contributory pension scheme wherein workers and employers contributes 7.5% each considering the fact that most workers earn poverty wage, a situation that guarantees stupendous profit for the employers.

It will only be reasonable and fair for workers to contribute the least possible part of their salary and allowances while employers contribute the rest such that can guarantee workers basic needs when they retire taking account of inflation.

Hence, we call for a pension system that allows for employers to contribute at least 85% of the total pensionable funds that actually meet the needs of pensioners. It is the responsibility of governments and employers to pay living pension to retirees. We also demand the democratization of the pension board with the inclusion of the elected representatives of workers and pensioners.”


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