Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has flagged off the contributory pension scheme for civil servants in the state.
Flagging off the scheme at government house Makurdi yesterday, the governor used the opportunity to apologise to pensioners in the state over the backlog of pension allowance and entitlement owed by successive administrations.
Ortom said that the scheme would help to address huge pension liabilities inherited from previous administrations, adding that the scheme was long overdue, given the suffering that retired civil servants are passing through due to backlog of pensions and gratuities.
The governor said that the new scheme will bring a lasting solution to the problems of non-payment of pension and gratuities.
He said that the Pension Reform Law stipulates that the employer (government in this case) shall contribute an additional ten per cent (10%) of the monthly emoluments of each worker enrolled into the Scheme, while the workers are to contribute eight per cent (8%) of their monthly emoluments into the workers retirement savings.
According to him, “this flag-off is long overdue, given the suffering that our retired staff who are owed their pensions and gratuities have had to go through. I, therefore, apologise on behalf of our government as well as previous administrations in the state to our workers both serving and retired for the inability to find a lasting solution to the pension problem before now.
“This is no doubt a painful but necessary sacrifice that we all must make in order to overcome and put behind us the problem of huge pension liabilities with its accompanying pain and misery to unpaid retired staff.
“I, therefore, call on all, especially our workers to welcome and embrace the Contributory Pension Scheme. All serving and retired staff should see the Contributory Pension Scheme for what it is the necessary panacea to the State’s pension ailment. This is because in the long run, it is expected to be a win-win solution to all stakeholders as those who are enrolling into the Scheme now can look forward to a more secure financial future on retirement.
“For those who have already retired but are owed their retirement benefits, the government would be availed the opportunity to borrow from the accumulated pension funds to defray some of the pension liabilities. Similarly, the State Government would be offered the window of opportunity to also borrow from the pension fund to provide critical infrastructure with well-structured repayment patterns and means.
The governor disclosed that as the Contributory Pension Scheme at both the State and Local Government levels in Benue takes off, three institutions have been selected to kick start the Scheme, which includes the Benue State University, the College of Health Sciences, and Benue State University Teaching Hospital, while the Benue State Pension Commission is urged to do the needful to ensure the orderly and speedy implementation of the Scheme in the State subsequently in all the MDAs.