By Akintola Benson-Oke
It has been said that organisations who under-prioritize the welfare of their workers do so at the risk of ruining their organisations.
As many would readily attest, Lagos State government is one of the most notable employers of labour that live by the ideal that welfare of employees is of paramount importance. Indeed, the passionate and unrivalled dedication of the state government to the welfare of its workforce (both during and after service) cannot be denied by any objective commentator.
This is why the state government, under Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, did not hesitate to approve the design to further explore how to create and implement useful and sustainable post-service benefits for officers of Lagos State Civil Service.
This administration’s dedication to pensioners’ welfare is unrivalled.
I’m Alive, one of our welfare schemes of the state government, is an initiative of the Civil Service Pensions Office directed at enrolling the bio data and finger prints of pensioners under the old scheme of Pay-As-You-Go in order to ascertain those who are alive and, therefore, entitled to receive payments under that scheme.
This initiative demonstrates the commitment of the government of Lagos State to ensure that resources are prudently managed for the benefit of all and sundry and, in particular, for the benefit of retired public servants who have served the state meritoriously.
The I’m Alive initiative is also an example of the commitment of the state government to fully integrate technology into governance. This initiative has brought extensive improvement in service delivery at the Civil Service Pensions Office (CSPO) such that, in most cases, pensioners need to bring only their Lagos State Resident Identity Cards to the verification centres in order to revalidate their records.
This is made possible because of the connectivity and synergies of government activities among different agencies.
Also, the Biometric Verification Exercise that constitutes a core part of the I’m Alive Initiative has contributed greatly to effective Pensions Administration in the State and has helped to ensure the prompt payment of monthly pensions for pensioners under the old scheme.
The second initiative is the distribution of welfare items to pensioners. This initiative is informed by the commitment of the state government to continue to celebrate and appreciate the invaluable contributions made by public servants to the status of Lagos as a model state and as Nigeria’s Centre of Excellence.
Additionally, the gesture aims to bring succor and make life worth more living for pensioners.
The third initiative regularly executed by the Civil Service Pensions Office is that of preparing civil servants for eventual retirement and understanding of the trail-blazing contributory pension scheme. As is well known, understanding leads to informed preparation and informed preparation ensures smooth-sailing ventures.
Of course, it is now public knowledge that the approach by Lagos State to pension management is far ahead of other similar efforts in the country so much so that the state has been loudly applauded and severally recognized for its exceptional excellence in pension administration, including awards and recognition from the National Pension Commission.
*Benson-Oke is Lagos State Commissioner for Establishment, Training & Pensions.