By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Thirty six hours after the new contributory pension scheme in Niger state became law, the organized labour in the state which had kept a studied silence and whittled it’s earlier threat to down tools if the new scheme is effectuated, said the new scheme is a mixed breed of two ideas.
Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Yahaya Idris Ndako said the new contributory pension scheme assented to by the state Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello was actually a harmonised version of the earlier bill on contributory pension scheme passed by the state House of Assembly but rejected by the state government and the version of the pension scheme brought by the executive arm of the government in the state.
Comrade Ndako explained that the state House of Assembly had consciously worked on the two versions of the contributory pension schemes and produced a more acceptable version of the pension scheme to placate both the employer and the employees.
He said the State House of Assembly had in their wisdom, while deliberating on the contributory pension scheme bill, struck a balance between the position of the state and the angle of the organised labour in the state for peace and unity amongst the two.
The state’s NLC Chairman argued that the position adopted by the state’s lawmakers was a more realistic middle of the road course than allowing any of the contending parties between the state government and the organised labour to have their ways as they had wanted in their separate positions.
Ndako said while the organized labour had wanted the new contributory pension scheme to include all the civil servants in the employ of the state government, the state government had in it’s position wanted to exclude all but those who had committed over twenty years in the public service in the state as from 2007.
He said under the new scheme approved by the lawmakers and sent to the Governor which he assented to, only those who joined the state’s civil service from 1993 to date are captured as those who the new contributory pension scheme would affect.
Those who have been in the state’s public service from 1992 backward have been exempted from the new pension scheme of the state.
This category of workers would continue to draw from the old pension scheme of the state. He said with the new law in place, it is a win-win situation for both the employer and the employees.
He said the only difference between the old jettisoned bill and the new one now signed into law was on the year of commencement.
While the state government wanted the new scheme to start work on those who had put in twenty years backward from 2007, the organized labour had insisted that the new scheme should only captured those who had put in ten years in the public service as at 2007.
He said the position of the State House of Assembly was that the new pension scheme should capture those who had been in public service for fifteen years as from 2007.
By this, the implication according to the new pension scheme, all civil servants who have been in the state civil service before 1993, that is 1992 backward, they are exempted from the new pension scheme.
While those who joined the services of the Niger state government from 1993 to date are those captured under the new scheme.
The NLC Chairman disclosed that over 4000 retired civil servants under the state’s government’s payroll and some 5000 others from the local government councils are to be reverted to the old pension scheme formula following the new development.
He assured that the state pension board was in the process of paying the full retirement benefits of those who have left the public service since 2007 and have not been settled.
Though Ndako was not certain on when the deductions of the contributory funds for those who fall under the new scheme would commence, he hazarded a guess that the state pension board should put it’s acts in order first to work out the modalities on the percentages as contained in the new scheme which would not take long time.
The Chairman lamented the growing mistrust and misgivings amongst some vested interest in the state about the activities of the leadership of the organised labour in the state and pleaded with the working class and those senior citizens to show greater understanding of the workings of the union and the pressure it faces.
He reassured the working class in the state of the commitment and sincerity of the leadership of the NLC in the state adding that those at the helm of affairs would not do anything against the overall interest of the working class and retired civil servants in the state.
”We would not betray you and the confidence you reposed in us because you elected us to serve you” Ndako said.