•State spends N300m monthly to service 9,000 pensioners
By Bashir Bello
AS at today, Katsina State spends about N300million monthly to take care of its 9,000 pensioners, unlike some other states where retirees are groaning over unpaid pensions and gratuity.
However, the bad news is that the state is yet to key into the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, close to 15 years after the inception of CPS following the Pension Reform Act, PRA, 2004, as amended.
Though a committee is working on how the state will set up its CPS, which organised labour says, workers want Jigawa State Model where the state contributes 17 per cent and workers 8 per cent.
On the state of pension payment, Permanent Secretary, Department of Establishment, Musa Rabi’u said: “The monthly pension is paid the moment a civil servant retires in the state. Katsina State does not delay in payment of the monthly pension. Immediately the file of a pensioner is processed, we pay as and when due. A situation where a pensioner gets delay in payment, it might be that he or she didn’t give notice on time for the process.
Take for instance, a file I just finished treating, the pensioner retired on June 1st but his file just got to us here in July. He should have started getting his pension by June but would only get it in July because the file got to us in July. So it is almost automatic when the worker retires, they are keyed into the pension scheme.
“The state has about 9,000 pensioners in its payroll as at June. And we have paid over N300 million to pensioners as at June. Again, the state whenever there is an increase in pension by the Federal Government, adopts and pays. For example, the last increase of pension by 33%, Katsina State was the first state to pay. It took effect from 1/1/2016.”
On his part, Chairman, Katsina State branch of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Hussaini Hamisu, said: “In Katsina, we thank God we have a Governor who always puts workers’ interest first. Quite a number of people have retired from service and provided you put in your retirement notice at the expiration of those three months, you will find out that you will be incorporated into the payroll of the retirees. So, in Katsina, our retirees are getting their pensions as and when due at the end of each month. As far as pension is concerned, I think there is no issue, only that, there is need for upward review of pension, though there has been upward review of pensions to some level.”
On CPS, Hamisu said: “Katsina has not keyed into it due to some reasons. But with the coming of this government, a committee was set up to look at it. Though I was not the Chairman of NLC then, but since I came on board, the government has been doing all it can to ensure that the committee continues with its work on the pension.
“But I believe the process will be good for the workers of Katsina if the one we (labour) suggested is implemented. NLC in Katsina State requested for the CPS as implemented in Jigawa State different from others or the Federal Government pension scheme.
“Of course, we are clamouring for the pension scheme to be in place in Jigawa State and I believe some other states too are also coming to Jigawa to borrow a leaf on how they are doing their pension scheme.
“In that of Jigawa State, workers contribute some percentage and the Jigawa State Government contributes their own percentage. Workers with five years to retire contribute some percentage while the government also does and at the point of retirement, the worker gets his pension, gratuity and continues to get pension. If you put in your retirement notice three months before retirement, you collect your money. ”
Responding on the part of the state government, Rabi’u said the “state is in the process of keying into the CPS.”