The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has commenced moves to ensure that more Nigerians embrace the contributory pension scheme now being operated in the country to secure their retirement.
To this end, PenCom is concluding arrangements to commission six new zonal offices strategically located in Gombe, Kano, Ilorin, Awka, Calabar and Lagos before the end of next month, investigation by Daily Independent has revealed.
In the mean time, PenCom’s zonal office in Calabar is expected to serve the states in the South-South geo-political zone, Ilorin office is to serve the North-Central, Gombe office is to serve the North-East, Kano office is to serve the North-West, Awka office is to serve the South-East, while Lagos office is to serve the South-West, as plans are ongoing to open more offices in due course.
Our correspondent learnt that PenCom intends to open these offices with a view to create more awareness about the new pension scheme so that more employers of labour and their employees can align with the scheme.
The offices to be open in in these six geo-polical zones is considered by PenCom very strategic as it would ease the burden of retirees moving often to Abuja for clarification and processing of their benefits.
Daily Independent further gathered that the idea behind the establishment of the zonal offices was to make the commission closer to its various stakeholders.
It is envisaged that the zonal office structure will enable PenCom to get more of the pension contributors, retirees will have easier access to the commission and it will bring the organisation closer to the pension operators to enable the pension regulatory body have better oversight of their operations.
As PenCom plans to also intensify public enlightenment efforts in order to educate the general public on the workings and benefits of the contributory pension scheme, it is also believed that having these zonal offices will make it easier for the commission to educate members of the populace in this regard.
In spite of the fact that the Pension Reform Act 2004 makes it compulsory for all employees in the public sector, as well as employees working with private sector organisations having a minimum of five employees, only 5.2 employees have registered with the Pension Fund Administrators of their choice almost nine years after the contributory pension scheme became effective in the country.
Due to this fact, investigation revealed that even though all the states in the federation except one, have adopted the contributory pension scheme, PenCom is not comfortable with the fact that only 5.2 million workers have joined the pension scheme while the working population of the country is estimated to be able about 42 million people.