For a considerable while now, the Lagos State Government has enjoyed reputation as a responsible government that pays the requisite attention to its pension responsibilities to the workforce of the civil service.
This reputation is indeed deserved. It is one for which the government of Lagos State, and in particular, the administration of His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, tirelessly worked and laboured. We must therefore commend the laudable commitment of His Excellency to sterling pension administration and management in Lagos State.
In addition to the leadership and support of His Excellency, the Civil Service Pensions Office (CSPO) is at the heart of the innovations and dedication that have ensured general satisfaction with the management of pension obligations in Lagos State. I therefore also commend the leadership of the CSPO, both past and present, and the entire officers of the CSPO for their fidelity to duty. However, as we rightly bask in this deserved reputation, we must also be reminded of the need to ensure that the entire officers of the civil service and the CSPO are trained on the principles, standards, and mechanisms that have ensured the smooth administration of pension matters in Lagos State.
By approving a training on Digital and Electronic Administration of Pensions in Lagos State, His Excellency is aiming to assure the sustainability of the series of digital and electronic mechanisms and innovation now enshrined in the processes of the CSPO. Participants at this training will be exposed to a considerable body of knowledge that will stand them in good stead to assume positions of responsibilities in the near future and to sustain the pace, level, and scope of innovation at the CSPO.
Pension administration in Nigeria has been haphazardly handled over the years. This has resulted in huge pension arrears and the subjection of pensioners to untold hardship; hence the need for reforms across board on pension matters. The core responsibility of the CSPO is, among other assigned functions, to process the terminal benefits of staff who exit the system by way of statutory or voluntary retirement i.e., those who disengage on the “Pay As You Go” Scheme.
In line with the recognised need for reforms, the Lagos State Government committed itself to the task of ensuring a better and more effective pension administration system. It is to this end that the CSPO put in place various measures to ease the burden of retirees and ensure their comfort. The digital and electronic aspects of these measures include the CSPO Biometric Fingerprint Identification System which will explore the robustness and architecture of the
Biometric Fingerprint Identification System, the CSPO Electronic Records Management System, saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that Pensioners of Lagos State on the ‘Pay As You Go’ scheme are paid their entitlements as at when due, the CSPO E-Payment of Pensions/Gratuity designed to ensure early and prompt payment of pensions, the CSPO Periodic Verification Exercises which also conducts Verification Exercises (“I’m alive”) for the thousands of pensioners in all the local government areas and the local council development areas of the state, and specialised software introduced by Lagos State Resident Registration Agency (LASRRA) to establish a database for the state pensioners. Additionally, the Pensioners’ Help Desk manned by competent officers has been put in place to ensure quick response to enquiries and requests.
Akintola Benson-Oke is Lagos State Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions.