Pensioners on Tuesday appealed to the Federal and state governments to reconsider their plan to borrow from the over N11 trn pension funds to facilitate infrastructural developments.
The pensioners made the appeal while reacting to the communique from the 22nd meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, which detailed their plans to leverage a portion of the accumulated pension funds and invest in infrastructure.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos, Engr Caleb Atoyebi, a retiree of the Federal Ministry of Works, stated that borrowing to invest in infrastructure was not justified, instead, governments should seek to reduce its cost of governance so as to accommodate infrastructural developments in their annual budgets.
He also appealed to government to focus on an upward review of the pension payments to accommodate the rate of inflation and increased cost of living.
“I have been a pensioner since 2001 and have done my verification exercise among other things, but you see, if you do not know anyone in pension office, your pay would not be regular and that’s what we have been facing.
“Since I retired, I have not received my repatriation fee, and instead of them to look for a way to review and increase the amount given to us, they want to take from us.
“Pensioners should be considered first because they are not as strong as before and matters that have to do with them should be handled with immediate alacrity.
“Yes, we need roads and other infrastructure, but all these should be provided for in the budget and not with funds of those that have worked so hard and are now feeble,” he said.
Another pensioner, Alphonsus Ikem, a retired soldier, told NAN that he was short paid by N29, 000 for November.
“Imagine me being short paid in spite of the funds’ existence, it is better left to imagination what the situation would be when it becomes borrowed and cannot be immediately accessed.
“We are watching and appealing and leaving everything in the hands of God,” he said.
Ikem also appealed to government to shelve its plans to borrow from pension funds, and source for investment funds elsewhere, including in Public-Private-Partnership to drive investments in infrastructure.
Olabimpe Kusimo, a retired banker, said she was not in support of the move by the state governors to borrow from pension funds.
Kusimo told NAN that there was lack of trust between government and the citizens over a number of issues, especially when it was finance related.
“All the monies they have been generating by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria Customs Service and the others, what use has it been put to?
“I am not in support of it at all, and I would want the PFAs to look into it as they have been the ones ensuring that we at least get our pension regularly since they stepped in,” she said.
NAN reports that the Pension Acts Reform 2014, which regulates the use of pension funds, does not provide for direct borrowing as proposed by the NGF. As at 30 September 2020, the pension funds stood at N11.56 trillion, according to the latest quarterly report by the regulator, Pencom.