By Paschal Emeka
Aisha Dahir-Umar, Ag DG PENCOM
A civil society group, Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative (CWAI) has called for the immediate substantive confirmation of the Acting Director-General of the National Pension Commission (Pencom), for her spectacular performances, turnaround and the repositioning of the apex regulatory pension body and the pension industry since she took over the mantle of leadership on acting capacity.
Under her leadership, the hopes of retirees has been rekindled while the industry has completely been transformed and undergone massive innovations and sustainable growth financially to help Nigerians prepare for their retirement years. CWAI said that since the coming on board of the present leadership it has been one plethora of initiative to another while it has created and built awareness campaigns about pension and to get Nigerians interested in saving from an early age.
The Executive Director of CWAI, Com, James Okoronkwo and Media Director, Com Dennis Esumobi, has endorsed the recent commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari of the Micro Pension Plan (MPP) for the informal sector and self-employed aimed at expanding the base of the pension industry; capture artisans across the country and other sectors not looked at before now thereby boosting the economy and stabilizing the pension assets in the country. That the launching of the Micro saving scheme will afford the country’s widespread small business sector seek ways of persuading majority of the country work force to put aside funds for their retirement, so as to have a comfortable life after service.
CWAI, therefore, extol the virtues of the new leadership which include: total overhaul; paradigm shift from the previous ways of doing things; good corporate governance rating; core values of integrity; patriotic reforms in organizational culture and the transparent leadership entrenched in the management ethics which has made Pencom Nigeria, what it is today, a global brand and player in the industry internationally.
In a press release signed by the duo, they stated that the pension fund assets has grown tremendously while the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) have also grown from its commencement in 2006 to the first quarter of 2019, as contributors stood over 8.7 trillion; the Pension Fund Operators which covers the administrators and custodians has also grown astronomically. However, the pension portfolio has also increased while the Micro Pension plan(MPP) is targeted at significant majority of Nigeria’s working population that guarantees when they retire, they can still live comfortably. They emphasized that the rapid improvement in pension reforms, payments and awareness campaign has helped to increase the incidence of benefits to retirees which has also led to growing the economic base of the financial sector; as well as rekindling the hopes and aspirations of retirees and restoring the credibility of the pension regulator in the hearts of Nigerians.
CWAI also commended and applauded the Aisha Dahir-Umar led management for their forthrightness and vision in repositioning and rebranding of the pension administration in Nigeria for professionalism and effective service delivery in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘Next Level’ agenda through dynamic, purposeful reforms of the sector which gave birth to increased enforcement powers; increased the rate of contributors for employees in the CPS category; the introduction of new set of investment regulations that enable Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs) to invest in infrastructure development provided that the pension funds will be invested in real estate development and also taking the pragmatic essential steps to professionalize pensions and make it future proof.
Consequently, as a result of these initiatives by the present leadership, operating licenses has been granted to notable financial pension institutions to grow the economic base and provide sweeping reforms in the sector for sustainable management of retirement benefits of the citizens. So as to develop key elements and structure a sustainable pension system for Nigeria, to deepen the discussion by ensuring that pension funds are invested in real sector for visible and measurable impact on the economy.
CWAI, therefore, pass a vote of confidence on the management of Pencom and called on Nigerians, stakeholders, trade associations, NGOs, CSOs and organizations to join hands with Pencom to enlighten its members and Nigerians on the importance of early savings andretirement plansthereby supporting the patriotic efforts by the present leadership to empower retirees and create the needed environment for the industry to thrive and also called on the present administration to immediately confirm the appointment of Aisha Dahir-Umar for the historic launch of a novel initiative for the inclusion of the informal sector of the country in to the pension industry.