The nation’s pension assets have hit a whopping N3.4 trillion as at the end of May 2013, while the number of contributors in the review period has also grown to 5.3 million.
This follows the filing in of 12 states of the federation into the scheme. However, only six states have fully complied with the provisions of the Pension Act by collecting and remitting contributions.
The Executive Committee of the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp) disclosed this at its Annual General Meeting in Lagos at the weekend. PenOp said the potential of the industry is huge, given that only seven percent of Nigeria’s 80 million workforce has come into the scheme, with a large number, particularly in the informal sector, not being able to access the scheme.
Dave Uduanu, chairman, PenOp, observed that operators were sensitive about the management of the fund, since it is a young and growing industry and because its safety is critical in meeting the key objectives of the scheme, which is to ensure that workers (contributors) have access to their funds at retirement.
Uduanu said this was why operators were wary of where to invest the money, despite pressures from all corners, that pension funds should be used to develop projects such as infrastructure.
“We have quite a lot of investment windows approved for us by our regulator, but still, we are buyers of securities, we are buyers of investment instruments and not a charity organisation that would repair roads and electricity”, he said.
According Uduanu, “if roads are to be built for tolls, or other liquid investments, we can be part of it, where we are sure that retirees funds are safe”.
Demola Sogunle, chief executive officer, Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Limited, speaking on regulation of the industry, disabused the minds of many who continue to say that the industry is over regulated.
“We cannot be talking about over-regulation in a young industry that has to do with contributors’ emotions, an industry that is about retirees’ vulnerability,” he pointed out.
Shogunle observed that it is important that the industry is properly established, for safety of the funds. He added tha that there would be guidelines from time to time, to define codes, ethics and conduct of the operators.