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Nigeria: Contributors to pensions, retirees, become agitated as unresolved complaints mount

As pension assets continue their ascent, reaching a total of N17.1 trillion in July, an increasing number of pension contributors and retirees find themselves growing frustrated by the mounting pile of unresolved complaints within the sector.

According to some contributors and retirees who shared their experiences with Financial Vanguard, their grievances often languish in a state of prolonged delay or, in some cases, go entirely unanswered. This situation has given rise to concerns that the National Pension Commission (PenCom) may be struggling to cope with the deluge of complaints that regularly inundate the commission.

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Stakeholders argue that this mounting dissatisfaction could be one of the factors motivating certain groups and institutions to seek an exit from the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and revert to the older pension scheme.

Financial Vanguard’s investigation, based on PenCom’s data, reveals that during the first quarter of 2023 (Q1’23), a total of 59 complaints regarding non-remittance of pension contributions were submitted to PenCom. Shockingly, only nine of these complaints were resolved, leaving a staggering 84.7 percent of the grievances unresolved during this period.

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Similarly, in the fourth quarter of 2022 (Q4’22), there were 82 recorded complaints, with a mere seven of them reaching a resolution, resulting in a staggering 91.5 percent of the complaints remaining unresolved within that period.

During the third quarter of 2022 (Q3’22), PenCom received eight complaints, of which only one was successfully resolved within that timeframe. In the second quarter of 2022 (Q2’22), a total of 89 complaints were submitted to PenCom, with just eight achieving resolution, indicating that a substantial 91 percent of the complaints remained unresolved during that period.

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It’s worth noting that while PenCom provides data specifically for complaints related to non-remittance of pension contributions, the commission acknowledges that it regularly receives various other types of complaints. These encompass issues such as non-payment or delays in receiving accrued pension rights for retirees of Treasury Funded Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs); requests for resolution of multiple PIN registrations; delays in the approval of transfers to Retiree Life Annuity (RLA); delays in the approval of programmed withdrawal, temporary access to 25 percent of funds, residential mortgage, voluntary contributions, and NSITF; delays in data-recapture; as well as RSA transfer-related complaints.

Commenting on this situation, Comrade Bisan Olufemi John, Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners Contributory Pension Scheme (NUPCPS), expressed that the government’s pension arrangement still falls far short of being favorable to both contributors and retirees. According to John, the government’s top priority should be improving customer service and the welfare of pensioners and workers.

John said: “There is no way the government can successfully tackle the myriads of economic challenges without adequately satisfying the yearnings of both pensioners and those workers currently in service. The Federal Government has been struggling with getting the economy to work, but one thing that is clear is that the people are the ones that will contribute mainly to make such a reality come to be.

“The government must first think of the workers, improve on their welfare so they can then contribute their quota adequately to the economy. It should be the people before the economy.”

Also speaking, another pension contributor, Mr. Malachy Eze, stated that the slow response of the pension industry in resolving complaints is having a negative impact on the pension scheme.

Eze said: “Government has failed in many instances to pay group life insurance claims to next-of-kin of deceased civil servants.    Scenarios like this should never arise, rather government must provide better opportunities for workers and pensioners to be happy.

“Retirees’ welfare should not just end at the level of being paid their stipends.”

Also speaking, a NUPCPS member, Comrade Olagbayo Johnson, said it is unfortunate that the CPS appears to be failing.

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