Lawyers canvass expanded regulatory framework for pension scheme


Local pension experts on the platform of Pension Lawyers Association of Nigeria (PLAN) have said that only robust regulatory framework would enhance quick realisation of the core objectives of the contributory pension scheme in the country.

The Federal Government had completed a review of the Pension Reform Act 2004, which led to the enactment of the Pension Reform Act 2014.

This review introduced some innovations that are expected to engender the achievement of the objectives of the legislation.

President of the association, Mr. Mbanugo Udenze, who spoke in Lagos, said the decision of the government to carry out a review of the Act was a right step in the right direction.

According to him, apart from portraying Nigeria as a dynamic society, which undertakes periodic review of legislations to reflect current realities in the socio-political economy, the review also brought about some innovations in the new legislation, which were absent in the old one.

“But it is one thing to have a good legislation, it is yet a different thing altogether for such a legislation to be adequately implemented to address the issues for which it was enacted. There is, therefore, a great world of difference between a good legislation and the implementation side of it. This basic reality makes it expedient for the government to create an expanded and robust regulatory framework that would ensure the implementation of the law so that it will achieve the goals, which it is set out to accomplish,” he also said.

He, however, noted that the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) as

presently constituted does not have what it takes to drive the process

towards achieving the desired goals and objectives.

“PENCOM in its current state is too tiny to regulate the industry. I

am not sure it has offices in the six geo-political zones of the

country, a development that gave rise for the need to enlarge the

regulatory framework by enlarging and empowering the commission”,

Mbanugo also said.

“My view is that Government should fund PENCOM properly and it should

expand. I think it is too tiny now.  I am not sure it has locations in

all the states of the federation and Abuja It should become robust in

order to cover the whole country, it is only when the government does

this that the impact of the scheme would be felt by the people, who

would in turn get the benefits of the new contributory pension regime”

The PLAN-boss who doubles as principal partner, Mbanugo Udenze & Co. Law Firm, also called for the granting of a level of autonomy to the management, saying that the politicisation of the appointment of the management of the commission does not make for robust regulatory

framework.

According to him, the current situation under which the appointment of the management of PENCOM, especially the director General of the commission is placed under the whims and caprices of politicians would only breed mediocrity, which would not help the overall objectives of the new pension scheme.

He noted that giving the commission a level of autonomy, especially in

terms of the appointment and control of the management of the

commission, which should not be left to political intrigues and calculation would do the commission a lot of good, as it will be insulated from political manipulations.

While responding to a question as to whether the Director General of

the commission should be given a term of office like that of the

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and similar other government

agencies, he said: “Having a tenure of office for the position of the

DG is not really the entire issue. But the issue is de-politicising

it, making it quasi -independent so that any body that becomes the CEO

of the commission should have the full powers to implement the

legislation subject to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of

Nigeria”

“The essence of this level of independence or autonomy is that merit should not be sacrificed on the altars of political spread of national

character. Such things breed mediocrity”, he argued.

“Since the last five years, it was only recently that the commission

had a substantive Director General. After the first DG, it took a long

while for the new DG to be confirmed, this does not make for

efficiency and effectiveness of the management”, he also said.

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