Despite agitations by both serving and retired officers of the Nigeria Police Force to exit the current Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, has rejected the move, saying it is not in the best interest of the force.
Daily Trust reports that a bill to set up the Police Pension Board to administer pensions for the force, which will see the police exit the contributory scheme was passed in the last National Assembly.
Actuarial evaluations, according to experts, indicate that it would cost the federal government an additional N2 trillion in pension liabilities for the 300,000 police personnel.
The bill, tagged “A Bill for an Act to Establish Police Pension Board to handle pension matters for personnel of the Force and Connected purposes, 2022 (SB,1009),” sponsored by Senator Elisha Abbo, was first read on the floor of the Senate on June 14, 2022.
The bill excludes the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) from the CPS and returns the force to the old Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) which the pension board will now oversee just like what is obtainable with the military.
Leading the debate on the bill, Abbo who has been sacked by the Court of Appeal and is now out of the National Assembly, noted that the current pension arrangement of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), was under the Pension Commission by virtue of Section 5(1) of the Pension Reform Act 2014.
According to him, the Nigeria Police, though a premier law enforcement and security agency, is left on the CPS, unlike the Army, Navy, Air Force and other security agencies that had their pension boards.
Consequently, the Senate in June this year passed the Bill for the Establishment of a Police Pension Board, even though experts had warned that the government’s pension liabilities would increase by N2 trillion if the bill gets presidential assent
However, the Bill did not see the light of the day as former President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to it.
It was however learnt that many retired and serving officers, especially those of the rank and file, are still calling for its reintroduction in the 10th Senate.
We’ll go back to square one – IGP
Addressing officers at the Kwara State command in Ilorin recently, Egbetokun said the officers advocating to exit the contributory pension scheme were being misled and had not read the bill.
He said: “The officers who raised the issue of pension said that we should exit the present contributory pension scheme. Yes, it is true that a bill has been passed by the National Assembly to exit the current pension scheme and awaiting presidential assent but have any of you seen the content of the bill? Have you seen the details of that bill?
“Everybody is shouting let us pull out! let us go! Where are you going? You must know where you’re going before you start shouting. When I became IG, I set up a committee to look at the pension issues and I discovered that the bill does not favour us. If we leave the Contributory Pension Scheme, we are going back to square one and our pensions will be in the hands of politicians.
“It also means that our pension will be subject to budgetary allocations every year when the government does not have money, you will not be paid,” the police chief said.
He reminded officers that exiting the scheme would return them to the days of queuing for months without their pensions being paid.
He however assured that he has spoken to President Tinubu on how to improve the current contributory scheme for officers, adding that he his “working on a pension scheme where officers can retire with their salaries paid as pension.”
Speaking to Daily Trust on the development, the Chief Executive Officer of the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp), Oguche Agudah, said the position of the IGP has been the association’s stand from the day the exit agitations started.
“The position of the IG is what we have stated all along. Our overall aim is to ensure that Nigerian workers get their pension payments as and when due.
“Those on the defined benefit schemes in the states and even the military are not having it rosy. What you see from those schemes is that retirees have to wait for months, perhaps even years for them to have their pension paid because of budgetary constraints.
“Under the contributory pension scheme, your pension payment is not tied to anyone, but to what you have in your retirement savings account. This promotes dignity and flexibility and enables you to plan ahead,” he explained.