BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
A pension is a fund into which a sum of money is added during an employee’s employment years and from which payments are drawn to support the person’s retirement from work in the form of periodic payments. A pension may be a “defined benefit plan”, where a fixed sum is paid regularly to a person, or a “defined contribution plan”, under which a fixed sum is invested that then becomes available at retirement age. However, pensions can be classified as contributory and non-contributory pensions. A pension scheme is said to be contributory when both the government and the employee contribute (not necessarily equally) towards its payment. It is non-contributory if the whole amount of its payment is funded by the government or the employer only. Actually, the emergency pension scheme allowed workers to retire and the changing attitudes made it socially acceptable to do so. Prior to the enactment of the Pension Reform Act 2004, the pension scheme in Nigeria had been bedeviled by many problems. This scenario necessitated the introduction of a new regime in Nigeria by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo. The pension system, unless specially adopted to meet the hardship of time, results in hardship for the family of a white or blue-collar worker who dies prematurely in service, or on the verge of retirement, or before enjoying the pension benefits for any appreciable period. The country operated a Defined Benefit Scheme (gratuity and pension) between January 1, 1946 and June 2004. Nigeria in 1951, introduced pension benefits into the public sector with effect from 1946. The idea brought about a major attraction for employment in the public service. Nevertheless, the pension Act 102 of 1979 was the main legislation guiding the entire public service. To qualify for a pension then, the officer involved must have served for a minimum of 15 years and the gratuity period was a minimum of 10 years of service. In 1992, it was reformed to a minimum of 10 years for pension and 5 years for gratuity. One notable fact during the period was the pension scheme success recorded by the private sector. Most schemes in the public sector are insured schemes defined by the contributions of employees and employers. It provided a large sum of retirement benefits or earlier withdrawal. Pension fund managers, portfolio managers, and bankers are relevant in pension fund administration in the public sector. Again, decree 77 of 1993 established the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) to replace the old National Pension Fund (NPF) managed by the Federal Government for the private sector. Nonetheless, under this scheme, there was poor administration, an inadequate delivery system, and a lack of adequate records of movement from one employment to the other. Again, the Pension Reform Act was enacted on the 25th June, 2004 and came into effect on 1st July 2004. The Reform established a Defined Contributory (DC) scheme against the former Defined Benefit (DB). Dike, (2006) stated that, ‘the enactment of the new pension Act 2004, signed into law by President Olusegun Obasanjo on 30th June, 2004, has opened a new vista in the management of pension funds. In Nigeria, the prescribed age for superannuation or retirement varies from 60 to 65 years. According to Ugwu, (200:120), a retiring person is expected to be given certain benefits, such as a gratuity and a pension, while the gratuity is supposed to be paid as the worker makes his/her exit. The pension is expected to be a regular payment (on the amount due) until the day of the retirees’ exit. Retirement has been blamed for a variety of physical and psychological problems, including death.Hence, the need for retirees to be duly paid their pensions. The reverse is the case in Nigeria. It is upon this backdrop that this study seeks to examine the Obasanjo pension reform agenda of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration of 2004.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
One of the major administrative problems confronting Nigeria is how to devise an appropriate strategy to manage an effective pension fund for its retired workers. The incidence of absolute poverty amongst retirees has increased geometrically as a result of pension management problems. However, as a result of some bottle-necks in the administration of the pension fund, many workers fear retirement. Retirement, which ought to be seen as a glorious separation or quit, stands as a powerful instrument of fear for retirees. Since this is so, finding an appropriate strategy for effective management of the pension fund has become a development out of extreme necessity. Several factors have been identified as the major barriers to pension fund management in Nigeria. Firstly, in the implementation of the new federal government pension scheme, other tiers of government’s inability to implement the policy is a major problem. State and local governments, and even private establishments, still owe their employees a backlog of pensions. Secondly, the political climate is another issue worthy of consideration. In a situation where subsequent administrations find it necessary to do away with the pension act for one political reason or the other, would-be retirees ought to think twice about the pension reform Act, 2004. Thirdly, since there is no effective deadline for all the tiers and agencies of government, even the private sector, to implement the pension Act, some have started implementation, whereas others are yet to start doing the needful. Fourthly, it is a great challenge in a situation where some employers actually deduct the pension fund but do not forward it to the relevant Pension Fund Administrators (PFA). All these factors lead to the impossible effectiveness of the pension scheme. Thus, it is upon this premise that this study seeks to assess the pension reform agenda of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2004.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The broad objective of the study is to assess the pension reform agenda of Olusegun Obasanjo Administration 2004. A study of Federal Ministry of Interior, Anambra State, Nigeria.The specific objectives are as below:
1. To ascertain if the periodic contributions and their investment are left to the whims and caprices of politicians.
2. To determine the rate of pension contributions were adequate to provide the needed benefits of would-be retiree.
3. To ascertain if late and non-payment of pension entitlements leads to wide spread complaints and death among retirees.
4. To ascertain if the incidence of transition gap and the funding system of the scheme do not affect adequate and early payment of pension entitlement.
HO1: The rate of pension contributions were not adequate to provide the needed benefits of would-be retiree.
HO2: Late and non-payment of pension entitlements will leads to wide spread complaints and death among retirees.
HO3: Incidence of transition gap and the funding system of pension scheme do affect adequate and early payment of pension entitlement
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The results of this study will have the potential to generate comprehensive and effective assessment strategies capable of addressing various conflict situations within the pension scheme of our great country, Nigeria. Firstly, the study and its findings will contribute significantly to the existing literature on the subject area. Secondly, the findings will be a guide to various levels of government and non-governmental establishments on what fixed percentage of their revenue should be kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to cater for the pension needs of their workers as a way of securing the future of the retirees. Finally, the study will empirically add to the body of knowledge and serve as reference material for both students and scholars who wish to conduct further studies in related fields.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study borders on the assessment of the pension reform agenda of Olusegun Obasanjo Administration 2004. The study will assess the incidence of transition gap and the funding system of the scheme and how it affects adequate and early payment of pension entitlement of retirees. The study is however delimited to Federal Ministry of Interior, Anambra State, Nigeria thus Staff of the ministry will be the respondents of the instrument.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
In the course of carrying out this research, a lot of difficulties were encountered. They include the difficulty in searching for available data, the noncooperation attitude of some staff members of the ministry, the low literacy level of some respondents, especially the junior workers, constituted problems. Also, the management staff of the ministry were not ready to give out what they described as “official secrets” as information. Perhaps, time was the biggest and by far the most important hindrance to this work. Since the researcher combined his daily job with school and was engrossed in serious studies for his examination, this research was not given the most exhaustive treatment possible. On the other hand, limited funds also pose some threat to the realization of the researcher’s dream in this work. Traveling to libraries for days and the perennial fuel crisis and the attendant transportation problems have serious limitations on research. The libraries that are close by had only books which did not address the current pension reform agenda. Thus, researchers had to travel to far places where good and modern libraries were found. Again, the researcher could not get to all the locations at the scheduled time. This caused repeated visits, first to apologize for the lateness and secondly to fix another appointment. In spite of all those challenges, the researcher did his best.
DEFINITIONS OF TERMS
Pension:A pension is a fund into which a sum of money is added during an employee’s employment years and from which payments are drawn to support the person’s retirement from work in the form of periodic payments.
Pension Scheme: A pension scheme is simply a type of savings plan to help you save money for later life. And there are tax advantages compared with other types of savings.
The National Pension Commission (NPC): it is a Commission created by the Federal Republic of Nigeria to regulate, supervise and ensure effective pension regime in Nigeria.