Reps consider bill to exempt police from contributory pension scheme

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A bill seeking to exempt the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) from the contributory pension scheme has passed second reading at the house of representatives.

The proposed legislation seeks to amend section 5 (1) of the Pension Reform Act of 2014, to include officers of the NPF as part of the categories of persons exempted from the contributory pension.The contributory pension scheme (CPS) applies to employees in the public service of the federation, the federal capital territory (FCT), states, local government councils, as well as workers in the private sector.Employees are allowed to make voluntary contributions into their RSA through their pension fund administrator (PFA), in addition to their mandatory pension contributions to improve their retirement benefits.

However, members of the armed forces, the intelligence and secret services are exempted from the scheme.Speaking on the floor of the house on Tuesday, Francis Waive, a lawmaker from Delta and sponsor of the bill, said the scheme has not offered many benefits for NPF retirees.“The Nigeria police was brought under the current pension scheme by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration,” he said.

“The then government, which modelled the country’s contributory pension scheme (CPS) after the Chilean scheme (Chile Pension Scheme) that exempted both the armed forces and the police from the scheme, unfortunately, in adopting the same model, brought the police under the Nigerian pension scheme, while exempting the military and other intelligence agencies.“The Nigeria police pensions limited emanated from a presidential approval that was aimed at enhancing the welfare of serving and retired police officers.“Consequent to the approval, the National Pension Commission (PenCom) was in 2012 directed to guide the police towards the establishment of a Nigeria police pension fund administrator, in order to remain within the contributory pension scheme and to address all other areas of concern on welfare and pension matters.“Unfortunately, operating under the current pension scheme has been both unpalatable and regrettable for the retirees of the Nigeria Police Force.”

The lawmaker said since the police are “exposed to danger day and night more than other security agencies”, they ought to be exempted from the current pension scheme like their counterparts in the military and other intelligence agencies.“For example, the highest retirement benefit of deputy superintendent of police under this obnoxious pension scheme is N2.5 million and that of assistant superintendent of police is N1.5 million, while their equivalent in the army (captain) and DSS are paid N12.8 million and N10.3 million, respectively,” he said.“Due to the nature of their job, a policeman would risk his life and that of his dependant to serve the nation for 35 years, only to retire to a life of penury, being made to face humiliation after retirement on account of pension and gratuity scheme not being effective.“The problems with the non-payment of pension benefits under the present scheme are well known. Ordinarily, life in retirement should call for celebration. But not for the men of the Nigeria Police Force. At retirement, they become apprehensive and look forward to the future with trepidation.”

He said when the police are exempted from the scheme, it will “ensure proper remuneration at retirement and also make room for improved welfare for serving police officers”.Contributing to the debate, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, deputy whip of the house, said it is unacceptable for other security agencies to earn better retirement benefits than the police.Also speaking, Shehu Koko, chairman of committee on air force who is a retired police officer, said he is a “typical example” of the scheme, adding that it has not benefited NPF retirees.The lawmakers unanimously voted in support of the bill when it was put to a voice vote by Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house.

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