Stanbic IBTC Pension pays N500m to retired workers
From Abosede Musari, Abuja
Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers has commended the Pension Commission (PENCOM) for the on-going reforms in rendering pension services to retiring Nigerians stating that this is a situation away from the initial difficulties experienced by retiring public and civil servants in accessing their retirement benefits.
Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Mr. Yinka Sanni gave this commendation in Abuja recently at the Retiree Forum the company held for its clients. He disclosed that due to the reform and the ease brought into the industry through the Pension Reform Act, his company is able to pay over N500 million in claims to its retiree clients on a monthly basis.
With a client base of over 600 thousand, 12 thousand of whom are retirees, Mr. Sanni said the company thought it fit to hold the forum because the retirees are its most important public, contributing so much of its revenue.
He added that holding the forum was important in order to appreciate and celebrate the pensioners and to demonstrate that retirement is more than paying pensions and as well as to get feedback from them in order to serve them more efficiently.
The forum was also held in order to hold a verification exercise to ascertain the identity of the clients. Mr. Sanni explained that the forum would also be taking place in Lagos and Port-Harcourt to ensure that those being paid by the company are the right people.
While delivering the keynote address at the occasion, Director General of PENCOM, Mohanmed Ahmad said the forum was consistent with the policy of PENCOM, which subscribes to providing efficient customer service to pensioners, and assures that other Pension Fund Administrators would join in hosting fora like this to ensure that their clients are well served.
Former President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), and retired Deputy Director of Statistics at the National Bureau of Statistics, Mr. Sunday Job, who also gave an address at the forum praised the new Pension Act, saying it gave much relief from the old scheme which was a whole lot of problems for retirees.
However, he identified a few grey areas in the new scheme. Such areas include the provision that states that withdrawal of money could be made at age 50. According to him, this may be a way of reducing the retirement age to 50 years.
\"The Act says that withdrawal of money from the fund can be made upon retirement or attainment of the age of 50 years. It is well known that Decree 102 of 1979 specifically mentions age 60 years as retirement age and by implication of the first schedule 35 years of working life. Since this decree has been repealed, there may be the likelihood of downward review of retirement age to a minimum of 50 years,\" he said.
He added that if circulars should emanate from the public service to redefine the retirement age, it is likely to cause industrial relations problems. He, therefore, enjoined the public service to restate in unambiguous terms, the retirement conditions.
Other grey areas identified are the exclusion of states and local governments in the Pension Reform Act. He said this would raise agitation from these areas for similar laws to be enacted to their own benefit.
Not all are bad news, however. Mr. Job also identified some of the benefits of the new scheme to include the likelihood of a renewed and stable workforce since workers now know that their old age will be secured.
Chief Medical Officer of Zankli Medical Centre, Abuja, Dr. Lovett Lawson, who gave a lecture to the retirees on \"Managing Your Health in Preparation for Retirement,\" urged retirees to avoid stress by taking time off for holidays and being more humorous, seeing the humorous side of every situation.
He explained that stress could arouse situations such as nervousness, panic attack, uncontrolled tears, excessive worrying, palpitation, breathing difficulties as well as symptoms of malaria. \"A two-week holiday will take care of this,\" he advised. - guardian