Pension Scandal In Nigeria; Its Impact On Public Fund Management


Pension Scandal In Nigeria; Its Impact On Public Fund Management

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The concept of pension could be said to be as old as man and his working environment. Even in primitive time, man was inclined to put aside something, in cash or kind, but mostly in kind to take care of the rainy day. The rainy day also included old age. In modern times it is generally conceived as the sum of money paid regularly by employers to former employees who have retired from their service usually as a result of attaining a fixed age limit in service or due to other reasons like sickness, widowhood or disabled people, or by former employers or financial institutions to retired people. Pension fund or pension plan or pension scheme is a system in which people receive a pension according to how much they have contributed to the pension fund. Longman (1995) defines pension as an amount of money paid regularly by government or company to someone who can no longer earn money by working for government or employer especially because of old age or sickness. Raji (2006) defined pension as a post-employment benefit paid to a pensioner to make that person financially independent at old age. From these definitions, the general notion about pension is that it is an arrangement made in the present (now) in order to secure an income in the future (later), which involves both the employer and the employee. On the concept of retirement, Raji (2006) sees it as post employment; Longman (1995) as stop working at one’s job usually because of age, while Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary explains it as the event or state in which one stops doing one’s regular work/job especially because one has reached a particular age. The particular age for retirement is different in different countries and for different jobs in certain cases. The United States of America (USA) for instance, through its Social Security Act (1935), designated the people aged 65 and over as aged. There is no such Act in Nigeria and no such clear cut designation in retirement age. While the official retirement age in the USA is 65 years irrespective of which sector of the economy (public or private) one works, various chronological ages at which one retires is the case in Nigeria. Judges retire at 70, university academics used to be 65 but now 70, state civil services 55, federal civil servants, 60, and private sector, 60 and 65 depending on the company. However, due to retrenchment in Nigeria, people are forced to retire before they reached the stipulated retirement age. In Nigeria, the systems of providing financial security for old age has been under strains, transforming from the National Provident Fund (NPF) to National Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), and to the Retirement Savings Account (RSA) under the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2004. As a result of the global changes and challenges of the modern population dynamics evidenced in the pressures of urbanization, industrialization, demographic mobility, and information and communication technology, the traditional ways of supporting the old in Nigeria appears to have come to a near-collapse (Demaki, 2006). For example, the extended family ties of togetherness, closeness and physical presence of loved ones and family members seem to be losing ground as a result of the GSM technology. Children, grandchildren and other relatives now call parents and old ones on phone without physically being there to see and solve their financial, psychological and other security problems. The surest way through which the elderly who have retired from active work life can solve their financial and other problems in Nigeria could have been through their pension pay packets but unfortunately, these are usually not made available to them as at when due because of the way and manner government and other employers of labour handle pension issues. They subject pensioners to all sorts of strenuous and stressful conditions associated with the multiple screening exercises to qualify to draw pensions. In Nigeria, it has been observed that it takes years to process pension papers and to make available the money to the pensioners, some of whom would have died while waiting for the maturity of their pension claims.



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