From: Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Worried by the non-compliance by some state governments to the guidelines of the new workers’ pension scheme, states have been urged to commence the implementation of retirement bond reserve as stipulated by the federal government.
Business Development Manager, Southwest of Sigma Pensions, John Igiehon, stated this on Thursday, while fielding questions from journalists, shortly after his presentation at the 5th Triennial Delegates Conference of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) Lagos zone, held in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
According to him, only 18 out of 36 states in Nigeria were operating the new contributory pension scheme imploring states yet to operate the scheme, to ensure 12% of their monthly allocations are set aside for pension redemption as stipulated by the federal government through PenCom.
He added that though there were penalties put in place by the FG for defaulting states, one of which is the ineligibility of such states to have access to bonds, Igiehon, noted several states still operated the old pension scheme.
He pointed out that the contributory pension enacted by Pension Reform Act 2004, remained the best that could happen to pension administration in the country saying with it, workers could not monitor their pension fund.
In his keynote address at the event, the president of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Messrs Francis Olabode Johnson, urged the National Assembly to, as a matter of urgency, pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law, to enhance participation and ownership by local communities in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
Represented by the Zonal Secretary of the association, Muhammed Wada, Olabode, who expressed his disappointment in the delay of the PIB after several years, was optimistic that the passage of the bill and its eventual signing into law, would not only allow communities to own refineries, it would also help in dousing youth restiveness and agitations that could lead to crises.
“The Senate has promised to give speedy passage to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) but up till now, that has not been done. The passage of the PIB will do us more good than harm as it will bring about community ownership of refineries and commitment which will in turn douse youth restiveness and agitations that could lead to crises”. He stated.
He bemoaned the mass sacking of oil workers by international oil companies, in defiance to the directive of the Minister of Labour, that no worker should be laid off urging both foreign and indigenous oil companies to desist from the act, warning PENGASSAN would continue to picket recalcitrant companies in that regard.
Johnson, who expressed the association’s support for the government’s efforts at ensuring that the four state owned refineries work at optimal capacity, submitted “government should encourage the building of efficient refineries and petrochemical plants to maximize crude oil derivatives and also put in place an effective Turn-Around-Maintenance System for the existing ones”.
Declaring the conference open, Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, described the association as of the most vibrant unions in the country since its inception almost 40 years ago.
The governor, represented by his Chief of Staff, Tolu Odebiyi, noted that petroleum played a vital role in the country’s economy urging the association to continue to dialogue with government on the way forward especially as the country was trying to get out of the present economic recession.