*Executive Secretary, Jigawa State Contributory Pension Scheme, Hashim Ahmed in a discussion with staff of the Board.
By Aliyu Dangida
THE Jigawa State Con-tributory Pension Scheme, CPS, was established by the administration of former Governor Ibrahim Saminu Turaki in 2001 and received legal backing from the state legislature in 2004. The asset of the scheme as at March this year was over N20 billion.
In this piece, Pension and You, in a chat with stakeholders in the state, take a lookn into why other states are trying to adopt the model.
Alhaji Hashim Ahmed is the Executive Secretary, Jigawa State and Local Governments Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS. The Executive Secretary supervises among others, the payments of pension and other entitlements. He gives insight into the inception of the scheme among others.
Before the establishment of the scheme, Jigawa State workers were going through pains and finding it difficult to access their entitlements. This made Jigawa to introduce the pension scheme for the state and local governments workers. The contributions by both employees and the state have a gestation period of five years before employees could draw benefits.
The Jigawa State Pension Scheme model is recognised as the pioneer scheme.
It kicked off in the year 2001 after the Jigawa State Government implemented reforms to its previous defined benefit pension model due to its huge pension deficits, the non-payment of benefits to pensioners as well as multiple and fraudulent pensioners’ records.
The contributory pension scheme in Jigawa State was the first of its kind in Nigeria and has provided an opportunity for the state employees to contribute into their retirement future. The state government contributes 17 per cent of employees’ basic salary into the employees’ retirement savings account, RSA, while employees contribute 8 per cent of their basic salary. This followed an agreement reached between government and workers in 2001, that they would contribute 8 per cent while government contributes 17 per cent – making a total of 25 per cent.
Though it was the responsibility of government to pay its workers terminal benefits either after retirement from active service or in case of death, but workers agreed to contribute in order for the scheme to see the light of the day and that is what is exactly happening in Jigawa State.
The government decided to contribute higher percentage to complement workers’ efforts aimed at making the scheme successful and sustainable by successive administrations in the state. It also has a gestation period of five years before employees can draw benefits from their contributions.
Jigawa State is the first state in the federation to enact and establish the pension scheme programme even before the Pension Reform Act, PRA, of 2004. The development has eased the suffering of Jigawa workers who retired or who died in active service. Now Jigawa State is leading in pension payment with other states like Katsina, Gombe and Zamfara thronging to the state to emulate the policy.
The remittance portion of workers stand at 8 per cent for workers and 17 per cent for government. All staff of state and local government and Local Education Authority, LEA, workers are captured before their retirement period through the Directorate for Salary and Pension Administration. The Directorate for Salary and Pension Administration is one of Jigawa State Government’s agencies responsible for the preparation of payroll, screening, and authentication of retirees and death benefit of workers through the use of electronic system.
It was unanimously agreed by both parties for onward deductions to be made to enable the scheme pay the entitlements of retirees and family of the deceased workers. The board implements the payment as and when due without any hitch. The category of workers benefiting from the payment are staff of the state, local governments and local education authority who completed the mandatory 35 years in service or attained 60 years as well as families of workers who died during active service.
Defined benefit scheme
The Jigawa State and Local Government Contributory Pension Scheme has appointed 11 Pension Fund Administrators, PFAs, as contained in the National Pension Commission, PenCom, guidelines. Jigawa State adopted the use of Defined Benefit Scheme, DBS, instead of Retirement Savings Accounts, RSA, which is as easy and simple for any retired or family of deceased workers to have access to their retired or death benefit without any hitch and the remittance fluctuated based on the number of retirements and deaths recorded in the work force.
The contributory pension scheme in Jigawa has no record of ghost pensioner during the year under review or even since its inception. This is as a result of measures taken by the board to curtail activities of commission agents, touts and staff of the board.
The board has cordial relationship with the Nigeria Union of pensioners, NUP. It has two members in the pension trustee. All decisions taken by the scheme enjoy the cooperation and support of workers.
On the other hand, the state government releases funds promptly for the settlement of pension and terminal benefits. This is responsible for the success story of the scheme.
Abdullahi Garba Tsoho, is the Chairman, National Union of Pensioners, NUP, Jigawa State Chapter.
“Pensioners in Jigawa State have no cause to complain because their dues are paid as and when due compared to pensioners in other states who are seriously suffering to the extent some spent several years without receiving their entitlements.
In Jigawa State, whenever a worker completes his mandatory years of service with the state or local government, he will collects his entitlement within 30 working days and he will subsequently be receiving his monthly pension.
If a worker dies in active service, his next of kin after presenting all the required documents will be paid with his benefits. We have to thank God and the present administration for its support and cooperation given to the state pensioners in effecting the payment of their entitlements, be it terminal benefit or monthly pensions.”
Impression by Labour
Sanusi Maigatari is the NLC Chairman, Jigawa State Council.
“As far as we are concerned, the NLC Jigawa State council is highly impressed and commends the commitment of Jigawa Government for sustaining the programme without sabotage. NLC Jigawa State council has been enjoying mutual and cordial working relationship with the pension board, appreciates the timely payment of workers’ entitlements as at when due without any difficulties.