|Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara|
It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you to this Public Hearing organized by the Committee on Pensions of the House of Representatives. This Public Hearing is sequel to the passage of the Second Reading of the above stated Bills which mandated the House Standing Committee on Pensions to carry out further in-depth legislative action on them for eventual passage into Law. It is on the strength of that mandate that we are gathered here today for this Public Hearing so as to garner the opinion of relevant stakeholders on the merits or otherwise of the proposed Bills.
2. Two of the Bills, HB. 726 entitled “A Bill for an Act to Establish the Chartered Institute of Pension Practitioners of Nigeria and for Related Matters, 2016” and HB 727 entitled “A Bill for an Act to Establish the Chartered Pension Institute of Nigeria and for Related Matters 2016” being similar in title and content, has been consolidated. The Bills seek to confer on the Institute, the responsibility for determining the standards of knowledge, qualifications and skills to be attained by such persons seeking to become Chartered Pension Practitioners and to review those standards from time to time as circumstances may require.
The Pension industry in Nigeria today is worth over 6.2 Trillion Naira (Nov. 2016). It comprises funds belonging to workers, employers of Labour and investors. It is too important a subject, and the size of funds involved, too big not to have some form of Regulation by its practitioners. There is therefore an urgent need for a regulatory framework to guide practitioners in the industry.
3. The legislature in Nigeria, being alive to its responsibilities, regards the pension industry as a major contributor to the economic and social wellbeing of Nigerians. The wellbeing of those who gave their best to the nation at the prime of their lives must be taken care of at the twilight of their lives. A well planned retirement with well managed pension scheme should guarantee the good life for our senior citizens. A well trained and professional pension practitioners have a huge role to play in achieving the above goals.
4. The third Bill, HB 842, seeks to establish the Nigerian Intelligence Agency Pensions Board, charged with the responsibility for payment of pensions and gratuities to all personnel of the Agency, that is, the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (N.I.A.).
5. The Nigerian Intelligence Agency (N.I.A.) is a highly respected security and diplomatic agency that caters for aspects of Nigeria’s security needs especially foreign intelligence. We invite stakeholders to assist the National Assembly to determine the appropriate method of guaranteeing the pensions of those who have served our country meritoriously in the past especially before coming into force of the Pension Reform Act of 2004. This is the usual purpose of a Public Hearing as key actors in the sectors are expected to advocate their views strongly to guide legislation in this area.
6. The role an effective Pension Board will play in the proper management of pension funds and the general wellbeing of the pensioners in the given sector cannot be over-emphasized as it goes without saying that ‘he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches most’. The House is ever ready to process Bills into Law that ensures good governance.
7. This Committee is uniquely placed to do justice to these Bills as it is the Committee that oversights most of the pension matters in Nigeria. The House expects informed recommendations on these Bills to guide its passage into law.
8. At this juncture, it is my sincere pleasure to hereby declare this Public Hearing open as I wish you all fruitful deliberations.
9. May God bless us all and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.