Pencom clears air on unpaid gratuities By Newsdesk The Acting Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Aisha Dahir-Umar, has cleared on reasons some retirees under Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), were yet to receive their  gratuity, stressing that the inability of the Federal Government to fund Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) resulted to the backlog.

follow site Dahir-Umar further disclosed that the affected retirees had been in service before enactment of CPS Pension Reform Act, 2004, which came into effect to reduce stress retirees were often subjected to before receiving their benefits.

enter site The Acting Director-General, who gave reasons for the continued delay during an interview with newsmen on Sunday in Lagos, noted that if the agency had embarked on payment of gratuities to pensioners, it would have been low.

pay to write a essay According to Dahir-Umar, the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has been fully established to handle the Federal Government retirees exempted from CPS based on regulation and supervision of PenCom.

follow She said that the Federal Government under the DBS activated pay-as-you-go method for pension and gratuity on percentages of defined pensionable items.

development of critical thinking skills “However, the DBS faced the problem of huge pension liabilities arising from inadequate and untimely budgetary provisions and increases in salaries and pensions. Pension administration was largely weak, inefficient, less transparent and cumbersome, and marred with corrupt practices.” she added. The PenCom boss said that until recently, the Federal Government could not unburden DBS Accrued Rights because of huge unfunded pension liabilities inherited by the present administration. essay writing on myself “The Federal Government is overburdened with payment of pensions as illustrated by 2016 Appropriation Act which made a provision of N200.17 billion as total pension and gratuity allocation. “The allocation is still insufficient to fund the liabilities. For instance the PTAD’s budget proposal indicated a total annual pension liability of N388.32 billion out of which N255.89 billion constituted unfunded liability inherited by PTAD.

source The acting director-general, however, noted that more than 184,979 workers had retired under CPS and currently receiving pensions regularly.

go The PenCom boss noted that the Federal Government released N54 billion in April which had been used to pay part of the arrears.

go According to her, retirees from January 2016 to October 2016 have been paid gratuity and are receiving regular monthly pensions.

Dahir-Umar said that the Federal Government would soon release funds to pay the next batch of retirees.

“President Muhammadu Buhari should be commended for settling the accrued pension rights for that period. Despite competing demands for available cash, President Buhari has always expressed concern about the plight of workers and pensioners,” she added.

The acting director-general, however, said: “The number of registered contributors grew to 7.4 million as at March 2017, which represented 7.45 per cent of the total labour force in the country and 3.95 per cent of total population.

“The total pension fund asset hit N6.62 trillion as at March 2017 with an average monthly contribution of about N30 billion. The total pension assets were equivalent to about six per cent of the Nigerian rebased Gross Domestic Product (GDP).’’

UN announces 37 job opportunities for young Nigerians

By Newsdesk

Respite are on the way for youths aiming to work at United Nation (UN) after its deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed, hinted that there are 37 career openings for young Nigerians.

Mohammed, who was former minister of Environment, said the openings were made available via the Junior Professional Officers’ (JPO) Programme, including internship for young graduates.

According to her, Nigeria has the opportunity to sponsor its youth for UN careers through the JPO. But Nigeria has not seized the opportunity in a long while.

JPO is a programme for the young people to come and grow their career at the UN and it has 37 positions for Nigeria – one for each of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory.

The JPO programme provides young professionals with hands-on experience in multilateral technical co-operation, and is one of the best ways to gain entry level positions within the UN system. And beneficiaries are sponsored by their own government, which fund their placement in one of a range of UN organisations.

Amina, who disclosed the vacancy at a Cultural Night organised by Nigerians working at the United Nations Systems, urged older generation to pave way for the youth by creating leadership opportunities for them .

The deputy secretary general urged them to stop competing with the younger ones for employment opportunities, stressing that it deprived the country’s youths opportunity to understand importance of leadership.

“Whenever there are opportunities, try and pave the way for the young ones; you are getting old and we want to see the young ones in the system. We need to give the youth the opportunity because if we don’t give them the opportunities, they can easily fall victims of crimes,” she added.

According to her, the Nigerian employees at the UN system are getting old and there is the need for the Nigerian youth to be allowed to come into the system.

“Home really does need us; there are leaders and we are trying with the professionals that we see in the United Nations. The work we need to do is not just to the world but also to remember that at the root of all that, you are only as good as where you come from.

“And it’s really important that we remember, with what we do here, what we can get back home, that we can encourage those at home, and inspire them.

“It’s not just what we do for the world.  Can’t we take those expertise back home,  Amina said, urging them to make the best use of every opportunity they got.”

She condemned what she termed alarming gender-based violence in Nigeria, saying it has increased in dimensions that one could never imagine.

“So when I look back home and I see that there are women that are coming back from Boko Haram captivity, they come back with a type of violence that many, for the rest of their lives, can’t recover from.

“But I also see that what is worse is the kind of violence that is visited upon the young girl. She is indoctrinated and convinced to tie a bomb around her and blow it off; that’s violence against girls; that’s violence against women.

“But what I wanted to say was that as we look at the gender-based violence initiative that we put a spotlight on our own nation; we all have a part to play. I know we would spend some money in Nigeria on this initiative but we all have a part to play individually and collectively in trying to bring it to zero,” she said.

Mohammed also lamented how girls were left behind in education, stressing that everyone needs to have an education – the boys and the girls.

“The boys we didn’t educate are the same ones that kidnap the girls that we educated. So education for everyone is exposure for everyone; it matters so much; it really does give us the basis, the moral compass to help us navigate through life.”

Nigeria’s Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Samson Itegboje, commended the Nigerians in the UN and particularly lauded the appointment of Mohammed as the UN Deputy Chief.

Itegboje said Nigeria was proud of Mohammed, describing her as an “ultimate authority and a reference point when it comes to Sustainable Development Goals’ issues”.

The Nigerian envoy said: “Nigeria is a great country; we are a happy people, you can’t take that away from us; we have gone through difficult times but we are happy that we have a government that is responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of dear people of Nigeria”.

Senate to probe Paris Club Refunds, others

By Newsdesk

Worried by labour unions persistent complaint over unpaid salaries after Federal Government released Paris Club Refunds, the Senate has concluded plans to probe Refunds and other bailout funds to state governors by President Muhammadu Buhari were approved.

The lawmakers queried the legality of the funds given to 36 governors by the president, to offset workers outstanding salaries in their various states.

This came barely days after Buhari condemned strategies adopted by the governors in disbursing the funds to their workers, describing the action of the governors as reasons the efforts embarked upon by his administration were yet to impact on Nigerians.

The lawmaker’s decision followed a point of order raised by Samuel Anyanwu from Imo state during plenary, who afterwards, sought the leave of the Senate to move a motion on the matter during the next legislative day.


The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, sought and got the leave of his colleagues and approved that the proper motion be brought by Anyanwu, to the floor on another legislative day.

The Federal Government had released the breakdown of payments to the 36 states as refund of “over-deductions on Paris Club, London Club Loans and Multilateral debts on the accounts of States and Local Governments (1995-2002).”

The latest payment was the second tranche of the refunds to the states with a total of N243.8 billion released to the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory.

Buhari, while releasing the N243.80 billion as second tranche of Paris Club refund to states, urged the governors to use a major part of the funds to offset salaries, pensions and other allowances of workers.

Disquiet trails teachers Cooperatives election over Ambode’s sister emergence as aspirant

essay writing By Olawale Abdul-Fatah

There is disquiet in Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Lagos state, over emergence of the state governor’s sister, Kehinde Ambode-Onigbanjo, as one of the candidates vying for Cooperatives and Multi-Purpose society, Lagos Island branch, president seat.

Ahead of the election scheduled for Thursday, it was gathered that the election committee released time table, sold nomination forms and concluded screening and approved the eligibility of every aspirants.

Some of the members alleged that the area officer for Lagos Island, at the event, represented the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperative at the screening.

A member of the cooperatives disclosed that two days after, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperative, released a memo, alleging that a section of the Lagos State Cooperative Law was been violated.

It was learned that the section does not exist in the teacher’s cooperatives bye laws which was used in previous elections.

According to the section, the management committee member after being in office for four years would wait for four years before he can contest again.

A member, who spoke under anonymity, disclosed that the directive disqualified the present secretary-general, Tolulope Kuforiji-Ajibola, who was contesting for seat of president against Ambode-Onigbanjo, who was a supervisory committee member.

It was learned that the Tutor-General/Permanent Secretary, Lagos state Education District 3, invited the two presidential aspirants to a meeting with all heads of departments and six principals.

At the meeting, a member present at the meeting alleged that the Permanent Secretary appealed to the disqualified aspirant to accept the verdict as her fate, noting that the TG/PS specifically urged Kuforiji-Ajibola to honour her and accept the verdict.

According to him, she said that the decision to back-down further lies in the hands of the cooperators that wanted him to pilot the society’s affairs.

In a swift reaction, Ambode-Onigbanjo, in an interview with vanguard, described the allegations as untrue and baseless, saying, the allegations were untrue because he was never imposed nor was the new guideline introduced to favour her.

Ogun disburses N5.1bn to pensioners

By Newsdesk

The Permanent Secretary, Ogun Bureau of Pensions, Babatunde Agbaje,  has disclosed that state government had paid N5.1 billion to pensioners between January and August.

He explained that the state government had also approved payment of N3.1 billion as gratuities to some pensioners in first quarter of this year.

Agbaje disclosed the figures during an oversight visit of the State Assembly Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters to the Office of the State Head of Service in Abeokuta.

The permanent secretary stated that the Bureau of State Pensions conducted pension exercise, I am alive exercise, for pensioners in the state to know their status.

“The physical verification exercise was targeted to screen 12,571 pensioners but only 11,153 participated recording 88.72 per cent success,” he said.

Agbaje hinted that during the exercise, the pensioners’ bio-data were upgraded with passport and biometric capturing, in order to prevent ghost pensioners.

He said that N27.9 million was being saved by the state government on monthly basis due to the remaining 1,418 pensioners not screened, who were absent during the exercise.

Agbaje noted that the integration of technology into the management of Pension Fund Administration in the state would checkmate the usual bureaucracy in processing retirement benefits of intending retirees.

He explained that the bureau was faced with inadequate modern computer systems, which were needed for enhancement of staff productivity.

The permanent secretary stated that non-availability of utility vehicles for the bureau had been hindering its operations in the state.

Responding, House Committee Chairman, Razak Oduntan, urged the bureau to always ensure prompt payment of pensions to the pensioners.

Oduntan said that the committee would continue to make laws that would be of benefits to the pensioners and the people of the state.

Reps order Presidential Villa clinic probe, seek upward review of minimum wage

By Newsdesk

The House of Representatives has directed Committee on Health Services to investigate the alleged deplorable state of Presidential Villa Clinic, even as he asked President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Minister of Labour and Employment to commence the process of negotiating an upward review of the current minimum wage.

This was sequel to motions sponsored by Henry Archibong, entitled:’Need to investigate the Deplorable condition of the state clinic and the alleged deductions from the salaries and allowances of the medical staff’ and another moved by Peter Akpatason during plenary on Thursday.

The House unanimously voted in support of the investigation when the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, put the motion to a voice vote and directed the committee to report back within three weeks for further legislative action.

Probe of the health facility came barely days after wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, faulted planned privatisation of the centre when drugs and other needs were not available there.

Moving the motion, Archibong alleged that the clinic had, over the years, been receiving annual budgetary allocations to procure equipment that will enable it to function optimally.

He hinted that in 2015, 2016 and 2017 Appropriation Acts, the clinic was allocated the sums of N3.94 billion, N3.87 billion and N3.2 billion, respectively, for upgrading and provision of necessary drugs and equipment.

“In spite of those huge budgetary allocations, the clinic lacks necessary facilities such as syringes, drugs and equipment needed for saving lives,’’ the lawmaker added.

Archibong disclosed that medical doctors working at the clinic had expressed concern over alleged illegal deductions from their salaries and allowances by the management since April 2017 without any official communication for the action.

“I am aware that the wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, complained publicly during a stakeholders’ meeting on Reproductive, Maternal, Nutrition, Child Advocacy and Health and Nutrition (RMNCAHN) at the State House of her inability to access health care needs at the clinic when she took ill recently, but was rather advised by the health providers to fly out of country for treatment.

“I acknowledge that her refusal to heed the advice of the health providers and insisting on obtaining medical care in Nigeria saved the country millions of dollars in foreign exchange and was also an act of patriotism and selflessness worthy of commendation,” he said.

It would be recalled that the State House Clinic was established to take care of the health needs of the President, the Vice-President, their family members as well as members of staff of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

On minimum wage, Dogara, mandated the Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity to ensure implementation of the directive.

Earlier, Akpatason, in the motion, urged the Federal Government to hearken to calls for a review of the national minimum wage figure to avert the looming nationwide strike action threatened by workers.

“The Minimum Wage Act of 2011 set the lowest payable salary at ₦18,000, but the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the National Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Federal Government have agreed to set up a joint review team to study and recommend an appropriate rate.

“Labour unions have submitted names of their nominees and have made several requests for commencement of the review process, but government is yet to respond positively to the requests,” he added.

Akpatason, while noting that payments of outstanding debts to contractors and arrears of salaries and pensions to workers had contributed to the reflation of the economy, said that an upward adjustment of the minimum wage would have similar positive effect on the economy.

The law maker told his colleagues that a combination of high inflation rates and the weak exchange value of the Naira had eroded the purchasing power of fixed income earners in the country.

“Such fixed income earners are the bread winners to millions of jobless Nigerians and the aged. A nationwide strike action embarked upon by workers at this time is capable of rolling back recent economic gains. Such strike could return the nation’s fragile economy into recession that will further exacerbate the suffering of the masses,” he explained.

FG saves N120bn after eradicating ghost workers

By Newsdesk

The Federal Government has disclosed that activities to end incident of ghost workers syndrome through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), has saved the nation N120 billion.

According to the government, the fund realised spanned across 10 years, beginning from April 2007 when IPPIS became operational till date.

Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, disclosed the fund saved in Abuja during his presentation on impact of financial reforms on the Nigerian economy, at the 22nd Annual Conference of Certified National Accountants held on Tuesday.

At the three-day conference, with the theme “Sustainable Economic Management in a Recession: Issues, Strategies and Options”, was organised by the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), he said the saving was not limited to detecting ghost workers, as excess personnel cost that had been channeled to non-personnel sub-heads by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were also recovered.

“From April 2007 when the scheme commenced to date, 459 MDAs have been enrolled with a total number of 310,453 staff.

“Over N120 billion cumulatively saved as a result of the difference between the amount government would have released to the MDAs based on appropriation, and actual amount released and paid through IPPIS.

“By the end of this month (October), we expect to make an additional N100 billion savings after the verification and capturing of the Armed Forces,” he added.

Idris added that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) had so far saved the government N108.1 billion in account maintenance fees and other charges that would have been paid to banks for managing the accounts of MDAs within the last two years.

He further hinted that TSA had eliminated MDAs bad practices including operating several accounts, therefore making it difficult for MDAs to divert public funds.

Idris also recalled that the Government Integrated Financial Management Information system (GIFMIS) went live in five years ago and presently, it had over 300 Ministries, Departments and Agencies on the system.

“GIFMIS has helped government to increase the ability of FGN to undertake central control and monitoring of expenditures and receipts in the MDAs and facilitates access to information on financial and operational performance.

“It has also helped to improve internal controls to prevent and detect potential and actual fraud. GIFMIS has also strengthened governance and accountability in MDAs through efficient and effective service delivery,” he said.

Meanwhile the Executive Director of Jos Business School, Ezekiel Gomos, during his presentation said that at present, small businesses were failing due to tough operating environment, including infrastructure, regulation, policy and taxes.

In the presentation titled: ‘SMEs as Engine of Economic Development in Nigeria,’ Gomos said government needed to encourage SMEs by creating business friendly laws, policies and regulations that would stimulate the latent talents that millions of Nigerians were endowed with.

To make SMEs more viable in the country, he called on the government to promote policies that would favour SMEs rather, than bigger companies.

“Nigerian SMEs cannot drive economic development in the 21st century with 20th century infrastructure. There is need to develop clusters or industrial parks with basic infrastructure for SMEs.

“Also, on access to finance, there is need to make the processes and procedures to access finance less cumbersome and complex. We must find innovative solutions to unlock sources of capital, while the need for SME Credit Guarantee Scheme is long overdue,” he said.

360,000 jobs ready soon-CBN governor

By Newsdesk

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, has assured that the 360,000 jobs for youths nationwide promised by President Muhammadu Buhari would be made available soon.

Emefiele explained that the jobs targeted at unemployed youths between ages of 18 and 35, was with the objectives to create an economy scale for farming on contiguous land.

He unfolded the plans at a  stakeholders’ meeting on operational framework for Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS), under which the jobs will be created.

The CBN governor stated that through the scheme, a minimum of 10,000 youths in each state, willing to engage in sustainable and profitable activities along the agriculture value chain, would be employed and trained.

“I believe we are on the verge of something very significant with the AADS. This scheme has been designed to create an ecosystem with the active participation of the public sector, state governments and the private sector.

“It will also assist farmers in embracing modern farming practices, such as use of tractors and irrigation schemes. It aims to reduce cost of production with availability of high quality inputs at competitive prices and lowering delivery cost of extension services,’’ he explained.

Emefiele said that state governments were expected to provide contiguous arable land, basic infrastructure, more efficient extension services, training and mentoring of the beneficiaries.

“The CBN on its part will provide financing at single digit interest rates. Beneficiaries are not expected to come up with any physical collateral but they must be grouped into formally registered cooperatives and cross-guarantee each other.

“All loan beneficiaries must also have valid Bank Verification Numbers (BVN), which will be registered on the National Collateral Registry and used to track repayments and also blacklist any defaulters,” he added.

Emefiele said that with the release of the operational framework for the scheme, engagements with stakeholders would be continuous to ensure that the scheme began during the dry season cultivation of the outgoing year.

Also, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development would be providing technical support for the project.

“We will be fully involved in the land clearing aspect of the project. In some places we will also be building dams and lakes to ensure all season farming.

“We will also provide advice because we have a team of experts at the ministry on crops, soil testing and the right kind of fertiliser so that when these young people go into agriculture, they won’t lose money,” he said.

The Kebbi state governor, Atiku Bagudu, thanked the Federal Government for recognising the significance of agriculture in economic development.

“We could not have recovered from recession as early as we did if not for the intense agricultural intervention initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari,’’ he said.

Bagudu also stressed the need to involve financial institutions, which banking models allowed them to support agriculture, for the programme to succeed in the country.

Lagos disburses N711m to pensioners

By Newsdesk

The Lagos state government has disbursed N711 million as pension payments to no fewer than 287 retirees for September, to ensure they have better life after retirement.

Also, the state government released N32 million as Insured death benefit cheques to nine beneficiaries and next-of-Kin of deceased employees.

The state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who handed over Retirement Bond Certificates to the beneficiaries, reiterated his administration’s commitment to ensure up-to-date pension payments.

“I understand the challenges facing the retirees and that the receipt of their pension dues will enable them face the future, as well as other goodies in the pipeline,’’ Ambode said.

The governor, who was represented by Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Dr Akintola Oke, urged the reirees not to live extravagantly.

Head of Public Affairs Unit, Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC), Basirat Lawal, in a statement on Monday, said that Director- General of LASPEC, Folashade Onanuga, also advised the pensioners to spend wisely.

“If you are in the evening time of your life, make sure you rest well, and do not do anything that will aggravate your health status. Use your pension for your basic needs and make sure you eat well and in moderation.

“The current economic challenges have affected the ability of youths to gain employment, such that in essence, many youths who should be taking care of themselves and their parents are still depending on them.

“I also advise the retirees to consider using the lump sum received to empower any resourceful child to start a family business, which could end up creating jobs for others,’’ Onanuga added.


Expert discloses strategy Nigeria needs to generate 4m jobs annually

By Newsdesk

A non Governmental Organisation, Foundation for Democracy in Africa (FDA), has said that Nigeria could generate atleast four million jobs annually through Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), if it invest on Micro Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs).

FDA stressed that if the country takes advantage of AGOA’s plan, aimed at reducing unemployment through creation of 20 million jobs in Africa annually.

AGOA scheme was initiated by the U.S. government in May 2000 to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between U.S and the region.

The president of the a group, Fred Oladehinde, argued that Nigeria needs to mobilise its MSMEs to be able to address its unemployment challenges.

Oladehinde said: “We need to mobilise MSMEs so that we can improve and enhance not only the value chain from supply side but also include their participation in the global supply chain and create the needed jobs.”

The Washington DC based NGO founder, stated that AGOA offers tangible incentives for Africa countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.

It would be recalled that after completing its initial 15-year period of validity, the AGOA legislation was extended in 2015 by a further 10 years, to September 2025.

Oladehinde noted that Nigeria had not maximally benefited from the scheme, adding that his organisation was ready to work with the government and civil society organisations to explore the scheme benefits.

“As you know there is need for the creation of about 20 million jobs every year in Africa. And if you look at the size of Nigeria and the population, it means almost four million of this jobs will have to be created in Nigeria every year,” he said.

The Nigerian born-American opined that he was in Nigeria to work with some civil society organisations and some of government agencies to utilise the benefits of the act to create jobs.

“Civil society has a role to play to ensure that the vibrant policy environment by the federal, states and the local governments is in place to support the development and the nourishment of MSMEs,” he said.

He said that his organisation which is an AGOA network NGO would work with government related agencies to educate MSMEs operators on meeting the standards of AGOA to be able to access U.S. market.

Oladehinde noted that there was need for the government to also create functional clusters for the MSMEs operators where they could harness resources to meet the AGOA standards.

He said that government also needed to provide incentives and increase budgeting for funding the MSMEs sector which he described as the engine room of economy.

“These are the birds that laid the golden eggs and so we should look at the investment in this engine of economic growth as the only way revive economically. The is the only way we create jobs for our youth and the only way that we can sustain our democracy,” he said

Oladehide said that there was the need for Nigeria to align its trade policy to its strategic partners especially its AGOA partners because it would allow the country to optimize the benefit of AGOA.

“This is access to one of the most lucrative markets in the world; in the U.S. you can bring in 6,500 products duty free into the U.S. The demand is huge; this is one market in the world that everybody craves for; everybody wants access to the U.S. market.

“And, if Nigeria is able to send our products to these markets that would allow us to create jobs, grow our businesses and pay taxes, it allows our airports to be very busy.

“It will allow us to reduce traditional cost in terms of cost to the citizens, and not only that it would also incentivise direct foreign from the U.S. into Nigeria,” he said.

He said that if Nigeria could key in to the scheme as it ought to, it would have impact on the nation’s socio-economic development and fast track its agenda on industrialisation.