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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Obasanjo wants N5.8trn pension funds spent on infrastructure

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has challenged pension managers to invest a portion of an estimated N5.8 trillion pension fund in housing and key infrastructures in order to speed up development in key sectors of the economy.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the third edition of World Pension Summit (Africa Special), the former president made reference to Singapore as a classical example of countries that maximally utilised pension asset to solve housing challenge confronting their citizens.
The theme of this year’s summit is “Pension Innovations: The African Perspective.”
“We must find a way of using the pension fund to help our development particularly infrastructural development. There are examples we can take in the world. For instance, Singapore is a good example where pension fund has been used to ensure that no Singaporean is without a house.
“There is no reason why we can’t go along that way here. Then, infrastructures, such as roads, especially toll roads. There is no reason why it is not one of the things we should embark upon. I will challenge you to, in the next two days, think innovatively, think outside of the box, but think with caution,” he added.
The former president, whose tenure as president laid the foundation for the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), advised pension managers to be cautious and extremely careful with innovation into the scheme.
He said while innovation was allowed, such innovations must impact positively on pensioners. Also, President Muhammadu Buhari said that Nigeria’s Contributory Pension Scheme had, to a large extent, stabilised the nation’s pension administration.
According to Buhari, it is globally acknowledged that pension matters occupy a strategic place not only as a vital component of social security, but also as a vehicle for nation building.
The president, represented by the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ayo-Ita, said the summit would enable countries and stakeholders to brainstorm on how to tackle their economic challenges.
“Nigeria in 2004 established contributory pension scheme due to its advantages such as sustainability as a system with framework that would eliminate incentives for corruption.
“Also, it is noteworthy that within 12 years of implementing contributory pension scheme in the country, it has to large extent, stabilised our pension administration system,” he said.
He called on the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) to extend its net to people in informal sector.
Buhari also directed PENCOM to step up its enforcement drive to public and private sector institutions to ensure full compliance and in line with the enabling law.
Eric Eggink, Founder, World Pension Summit, said due to innovation of Android phones, many people could now invest in pension scheme anywhere they used their mobile phones.
Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, Director-General of PENCOM, said after a long period of faltering economic performance, there had been resurgent growth over the last decade in African countries’ Gross Domestic Progress (GDP).
She listed African unique entrepreneurial/ innovative spirit, emerging from its industries, and smaller innovative initiatives such as the portable irrigation technology as some of the factors that led to the growth of African economies.
She, however, explained that Africa’s infrastructure by far remained the most deficient sector hampering the continent’s development.
The summit was attended by important dignitaries including Governor Nasiru el-Rufai of Kaduna State; former Governor of Cross River, Donald Duke; NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, and President of TUC, Kaigama Bala.

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