The Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service has revealed that the Federal Government currently owes its retirees over N400bn accrued pension rights.
The committee has also vowed to take up the issue with the government to ensure that all the arrears were cleared, even if it would be the only achievement that the 9th National Assembly would be remembered for.
The Chairman of the committee, Ibrahim Shekarau, disclosed this during the second annual National Assembly retreat with the Pension Funds Operators Association of Nigeria in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State, on Monday.
“Government owes the accrued pension funds of over N400bn, the committee has written a seriously worded letter to the Senate President, insisting that the Senate should take this up with Mr President to make sure this matter is addressed, otherwise it is one step forward, 10 steps backward,” he said.
Before addressing the issue constitutionally which could take a longer time, Shekarau said the Senate committee hoped to facilitate a special meeting with key relevant government officials and agencies and pension operators, where they would be told all the stories of pensioners’ sufferings.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari might not be aware of the huge debt.
He, however, expressed confidence that Buhari would address the issue.
Shekarau, who decried the indebtedness of state governments and local governments to their retirees, blamed the attitude on lack of political will.
To deter the state governments from further owing their retirees, he said, “We will initiate appropriate amendments. This is very important; otherwise, the pensioners will be suffering.”
The President, PenOp, Mrs Aderonke Adedeji, said pensions affected all of groups of people.
“So, it is evident that a well-functioning, transparent and efficient pension system is critical for all groups of Nigerians and our nation at large. A well-functioning pension industry will reduce the menace of corruption; because individuals will be assured that they have funds they can fall back on during their retirement years.”