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N19trn Pension Fund: Expending 70% alarming, utterly unacceptable, NLC, TUC warn FG

…Maintain pension fund not meant for government projects

The Federal Government has been told that the revelation that it has already accessed nearly 70% of the entire pension fund value “is not merely alarming; it is utterly unacceptable”.

 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), warned in a letter dated 15th May 2024, addressed to the Minister of Finance and copied to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Honourable Minister of Labour, the Head of Service,  the Director of State Security, Accountant General of the Federation, National Security Adviser, National Assembly Committees on Labour, and National Assembly Committees on Establishment.

Organised Labour, therefore, advised the government to shun its intent to tamper with the remaining N19 trillion pension fund having accessed almost 70 per cent of the Nigerian workers’ retirement savings.

NLC and TUC also said they would lead workers to resist any attempt to use the money for any other reason other than the purpose it is meant for. They warn the government to leave the money alone. The duo further vowed to protect Nigerian workers’ and pensioners’ welfare interests.

The jointly signed letter by NLC President and TUC Deputy President, Comrade Joe Ajaero and Comrade Tommy Etim Okon, reads: “We write this letter with grave concern and unwavering determination on behalf of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC).

“The recent announcement by you, Honourable Minister, regarding the government’s intention to utilize the substantial pension funds of N19.66 trillion for infrastructural development has ignited deep apprehension and unrest among Nigerian workers, who are the primary contributors and eventual beneficiaries of these funds.

“Allow us to underscore the severity of the matter at hand. The revelation that the government has already accessed nearly 70% of the entire pension fund value is not merely alarming; it is utterly unacceptable.

“Nigerian workers have entrusted their hard-earned savings for retirement security, not as a means for government projects. It is imperative to halt any further plans to tap into these funds, especially given the lack of transparency and accountability in past government borrowing practices.

“Your proposal to further leverage these funds for the purported betterment of housing and infrastructural sectors raises serious questions about fiscal prudence and responsible governance. Where does the government intend to source the additional N20 trillion it seeks to acquire, especially considering the ambiguity surrounding previous borrowing practices? The lack of clarity on this matter only fuels scepticism regarding the feasibility and sustainability of your initiative.

“Nigerian workers rightfully demand assurances that their retirement funds will not fall victim to further federal government borrowing especially when the PENCOM Board has not been constituted as envisaged by the statutes. One is left to wonder which Board superintends over such discussion with the Government. Seeking to borrow from this fund is not backed by the Pension Act.

“Despite the government’s assurances of widespread consultation with major stakeholders in the Pension industry, it is disheartening to note that the NLC and TUC, representing the owners of the entire Pension fund contributions, have neither been consulted nor informed about the government’s intentions. This lack of transparency undermines the sanctity of pension funds, which should be treated with the utmost reverence and protection at all times.

“It is incumbent upon the government to prioritize alternative sources of funding that do not imperil the financial security of Nigerian workers. We insist that any initiative aimed at leveraging pension funds for national development must be – executed with utmost transparency, accountability, and respect for the rights and interests of workers.

“Furthermore, we strongly oppose the notion of the government engaging in fierce competition with other users of funds in the Pension fund market. Access to these funds is crucial for private sector development and the advancement of our nation’s economy. Further borrowing denies private sector organizations access to funds essential for driving business growth nationwide.

“We, therefore, urge the government to reconsider its plans to tap further into pension funds and instead explore sustainable financing options that do not compromise the retirement security of Nigerian workers. Organised Labour will resist any action that seeks to undermine the retirement savings of Nigerian workers. We remain resolute in our commitment to safeguarding the welfare and interests of workers across the country.”

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