Senator Adams Oshiomhole(Edo North) has decried the misappropriation of the contributory pension funds by Governors and the Federal Government, saying both parties were ignoring loans offered by commercial banks and going for the workers fund, owing to the very low interest rate.
He said this was in breach of the concept establishing the contributory pension scheme designed to represent a social capital which workers would fall back on upon retirement.
The former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) stated that the funds, currently estimated at over N11 trillion, ought to go into mortgage investments for workers, who upon retirement, are supposed to have a roof over their head.
The former Edo Governor lamented that the essence of establishing the pension fund has been eroded by the administrators.
Oshiomhole spoke at the 8th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) with the theme ” Trade unionism in the era of economic crisis: Addressing the increasing poverty level of Nigerian Workers,” on Tuesday in Abuja.
Oshiomhole said: “I know I resisted the idea of contributory pension to be managed by Pension Fund Administrators PFAs. These PFAs are profit seekers, you cannot give me 6% return on my pension savings and yet path with 25% .
“In misery I am getting poorer but we are the greatest economists you can ever think of. Nowadays, that pension scheme is over N11 trillion Naira deducted from your wages, if they put up a part of that trillion or more into mass housing, will workers remain homeless? No, because we were told that the reason we don’t have a flourishing mortgage system in Nigeria is that Nigeria banks don’t give long term funds.
“Governors go to borrow these pension funds at a very reduced interest rate for about 6 percent, instead of going to the banks which have higher interest rates. Because the banks say they cannot give out customers’ funds to borrowers, especially because some save at maybe two to three months and come and collect, such funds cannot be used for long term loans.”
The senator condemned in strong terms the brutalisation of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Joe Ajaero by thugs allegedly hired by Imo state government.
He also faulted the strike which temporarily grounded social and economic activities in the country for two days.
According to him, oftentimes Labour leaders go seeking implementation of their demands from governments, (the capitalists) with biased positions that are not well articulated, giving the government officials upper hand in their negotiations.
He said the labour movement must always approach issues in a united front, even though the capitalists will always find ways to break or fragment them.
While commenting on the fuel subsidy policy of the government, Oshiomhole urged workers not to lament their sorry situation but to put on their thinking cap and wriggle out of the dire situation.
He said rather than spend time agonising over government policies that are not working in their favour, they should engage as a united front to press home their demands to those in authority.