…Disburses over N16Bn accrued pension rights to 4,104 retirees

…Lagos promises gradual reopening of hospitality business

Lagos govt saves over N8Bn from payments of ghost pensioners in 3 months
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State.

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

The Lagos State Government has saved the sum of N8.01537 Billion from fictitious claims and names of ghost retirees expunged from its payrolls between October to December 2019.

It also said it would soon produce the first forensic dentist in the whole of West Africa soon through its State Public Service.

The state Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions, Mrs. Ajibola Ponnle, disclosed these on Wednesday, during the 2020 ministerial briefing to mark the first year administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, held in Alausa, Ikeja.

Ponnle, said that the recent manual verification exercise conducted under the present administration resulted in the drastic reduction of fictitious claims and ghost pensioners on payroll within above mentioned period.

Statistics made available revealed that pensioners on payroll as at October 2019 from manual verification were 8,580, valued at N1.939 billion.

While pensioners offloaded from the payroll as at December 2019 were 2,129 with total amount of N53.37 million saved from the exercise.

From the same activity: pensioners due for 142 per cent, six per cent and 15 per cent increment on pay roll as at October 2019 were 8,180 valued at N8.4 billion.

While the number of offloaded pensioners from payroll as at December 2019 were 6,857, with total amount of N7.962 billion saved totalling N8.01537 Billion altogether.

The commissioner added that the state government during the year under review, between May 2019 to April 2020, paid N1.8 55,921,478.95 billion to pensioners under the defined benefits scheme otherwise called “Pay as You Go.”

According to the commissioner, the expected feat was as a result of the massive investment by the state government in the human capacity development of its workforce which she said was “already attracting global attention.”

Ponnle explained that the state government had consistently distinguished itself as the leading state in the payment of contributory payment scheme, management, implementation, and administration in Nigeria, leading the field in full implementation of an increase in the Employers contribution from 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent and employees contribution from 7.5 per cent to 8 per cent.

“The present administration since inception has continued to show great commitment to the welfare of its workforce, both in and out of office, hence, monthly pension contributions are promptly remitted into employees’ Retirement Savings Account while accrued pension right obligations are also being paid,” she said.

According to her, a total number of 4104 retirees had their accrued pension rights of N16,759,441,707.75 billion credited into their Retirement Saving Accounts,

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RSA between May 2019 to April 2020, saying the government also approved the release of N13.75 billion to fund the redemption bond account and also increased the additional funding rate of account from 5 per cent to 10 pet cent of total annual staff emoluments in order to fully clear the backlog of the arrears caused from the old defined benefit scheme era of pension management by the state.

The commissioner, however, affirmed that the ministry was committed to continuously developing initiatives that would ensure that the mandate of a 21st Century-compliant workforce was achieved.

In a separate briefing the state government said it was not in hurry to reopen the hospitality as well as entertainment businesses in view of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

The Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, who stated this at the ministerial briefing, assured residents that the fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic by the state government would not bring a total halt to the tourism and entertainment industry of the state.

Recall that the Federal Government had on Monday, June 1, lifted the ban on mosques and churches in the country, based on guidelines and protocols agreed with state governments.

To reopen Lagos hospitality sector is, however, left in the hands of the state government to decide on the appropriate reopening.

According to the commissioner, the state government is not in a hurry to reopen the entertainment sector to the detriment of public health, but must protect the citizens at all times.

Speaking on the gradual ease of the lockdown, Akinbile-Yusuff said: “During this period also, we issued guidelines to operators of hotels and restaurants and some other tourism establishments.

“Facilities that were seen not to have complied with these new directives were sealed off during enforcement exercise by officials of the Ministry.

“Now that the state government is considering full opening of the state’s economy, additional, detailed and extensive guidelines would still be given by the government once plans are concluded to open the sector for full operations.

“It is the desire of the state government that the businesses of these operators are back and functional. We are also mindful of the fact that this sector is one of the highest employers of labour compared to other sectors.

“This implies that if these businesses do not to function, it would lead to loss of jobs for thousands of Lagosians.

“That notwithstanding, as much as these businesses are important, the life of every Lagosian is much more important.

“Businesses must not exist to the detriment of the lives of the people. But if there are modalities that can make you operate at no risk to the populace, then we are ready to adopt such modalities or strategies.

“I want to use this medium to call on owners of hotels and entertainment businesses to regularise their facilities with the government for proper planning, documentation and provision of palliatives.”

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