The Day Sanwo-Olu put smiles on faces of retirees in Lagos

Date:

Thursday, July 4, 2024, will remain a historic day in the lives of retirees in Lagos State. It was a day the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, ended the pain and long days of waiting by retirees for payment of outstanding pension benefits after retirement from public service in the Centre of Excellence. Lagos State achieved a significant milestone in pension administration on Thursday by being the first state to clear all pension arrears.

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Governor Sanwo-Olu presented pension bond certificates totaling N4.5 billion to 2,000 retirees at the 105th Retirement Benefit Bond Certificate Presentation ceremony hosted by the Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC) at Oregun in Lagos. The Governor has cleared outstanding pension liability, making Lagos State the first and only state in Nigeria without pension liability to retirees. The clearing of the accrued pension liability essentially implies that the Lagos State Government owes no outstanding pension benefits or any form of entitlement to any individual who retired from its public service as at last week Thursday.

The settlement of Lagos State’s pension backlog has transitioned Lagos pension administration from servicing a liability to an era of pay-as-you-go. The employees of Lagos State Government who retire from the civil service will now get their full pension benefits and gratuity immediately after retirement through the Pay-As-You-Go initiative. By implication, fresh retirees will no longer wait endlessly after service before they receive their retirement benefits.

The Governor also launched a special health insurance scheme for all living retirees who served the State diligently. The newly introduced health insurance scheme for the retirees was to further appreciate the service of senior citizens in addition to payment of their financial entitlements.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, by the good gesture of his administration, has set an unprecedented record not only in Lagos State but in Nigeria, putting the Centre of Excellence on a high pedestal as the first and only state in the country to have settled all arrears and current pension liabilities in the state’s public service. The laudable achievement also stands as a testament to the unwavering commitment of the Lagos State Government to its retirees and its deliberate plan to celebrate their years of dedicated service to their beloved state.

Speaking during the 105th Retirement Benefit Bond Certificate Presentation ceremony attended by thousands of participants, which included the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, members of the State Executive Councils, heads of agencies, top government officials, and retirees who were excited to receive their outstanding pension benefits in their lifetimes, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the development marked a milestone in the State’s pension administration, stressing that the new template of “Pay-As You-Go” had prioritised quick payment of accrued rights in order to ensure retirees in the State enjoy dignity and financial stability after their retirement.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, who could not hide his joy during the ceremony seeing pensioners and senior citizens beaming with excitement, singing different songs, and dancing with him, as well as holding special prayer sessions to appreciate God and the State Government, said Lagos was the first state in the country to embrace the Contributory Pension Scheme when it commenced in 2004, pointing out that the State Government had paid N141.2 billion to 35,191 retirees till date.

He said, “Today, I am pleased to present bond certificates worth a total of N4,461,659,536.82 to 2,000 retirees from our civil service. This development marks a historic milestone as our dear State transitions into a new era of Pension Administration known as ‘Pay-As-You-Go’. From now on, all retirees of the State Government will be paid as they retire, provided all procedures and approvals have been completed before retirement.

“We have strategically prioritised clearing all backlogs of Accrued Rights payments to ensure our retirees enjoy dignity and financial stability after retirement. This commitment extends to the welfare of both current and former members of our workforce, recognising their unblemished careers in the State Public Service.

“Since the inception of the Contributory Pension Scheme, the State Government has paid N141,242,852,606.49 to 35,191 retirees. Under this administration alone, we have paid N59,701,420,500.22 to 17,039 retirees, making Lagos State a top performer in pension payments.

“Today, I am pleased to announce that another 2,000 retirees will receive bond certificates worth a total of N4,461,659,536.82. These funds, along with their monthly contributions, have already been remitted into their respective Retirement Savings Accounts with the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs).

“In addition to financial entitlements, the Lagos State Government, through the Lagos State Health Management Agency, has launched a Health Insurance Scheme tailored specifically for our retirees. This scheme will provide access to a wide range of medical services, from routine check-ups to specialised treatments. This initiative underscores our commitment to the well-being of our retirees, ensuring that you receive not only what is due to you statutorily but also additional support and assistance to enhance your lives in retirement.”

The Governor congratulated all the retirees and beneficiaries of the bond and health scheme, noting that the dedication and hard work have not gone unnoticed, and that was why the State Government ensured that they receive the rewards and support they deserve having served and retired from the Civil Service. The Governor, who advised the retirees to make good use of their pension benefits, cautioned them against using their pension to solve all family problems.

The Governor also commended the Director-General of the Lagos State Pension Commission, Mr. Babalola Obilana, and his team for their hard work, commitment, and dedication to the successful implementation of the programme.

In his address, the Head of Service, Mr. Olabode Agoro, observed that the Sanwo-Olu administration had been steadfast in recognising the invaluable service of the State’s workforce, which made the Governor push all efforts to clear all backlogs of Accrued Rights Payments.

Agoro, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Public Service Office, Mrs. Sunkanmi Oyegbola, said the Sanwo-Olu administration, in recognition of the retirees’ invaluable service, is steadfast in its efforts to clear all backlogs of Accrued Rights Payments, adding that the “commitment signifies our determination to eliminate pension arrears in the near future, a commendable effort deserving of our collective applause for Mr. Governor’s kind gesture.”

He said, “I am delighted to affirm that the administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu remains resolute in its commitment to enhancing the welfare and well-being of both active and retired staff. In Lagos State, the government ensures the consistent payment of workers’ salaries on the 23rd of every month, alongside the regular remittance of retirement benefits. This consistency has now become the norm, reflecting our dedication to the welfare of our workforce.

“To our esteemed retirees, I encourage you to embrace the opportunities that this new phase of life brings. Continue to share your wealth of experience and knowledge with the younger generation, and remain active and engaged within your communities. Please stay connected with the Post Service Directorate of my Office to participate in the bi-monthly webinars on maintaining healthy living in retirement and quarterly entrepreneurial workshops and training.”

The Head of Service, urged officers approaching retirement to submit their retirement notices to their MDAs promptly to facilitate early processing. He also called on Pension Fund Administrators to expedite the processing of the accrued pension rights being deposited to ensure timely disbursement to the beneficiaries.

The Commissioner for Establishment and Training, Mr. Afolabi Ayantayo, said the transition to the Pay-As-You-Go template had set a precedent for establishing a sustainable and dependable pension system, which would serve as a model in the country.

Ayantayo, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Establishments and Training, Mrs. Olubukola Abidakun, noted that the ministry had worked collaboratively with LASPEC and PFAs to ensure the disbursement processes were efficient and transparent.

“This gesture will undoubtedly impact the lives of our retirees positively, rebuild trust in the State’s pension system, boost employee morale, enhance productivity, and ensure that public servants can anticipate a secure retirement,” the commissioner said.

The LASPEC Director-General, Mr. Babalola Obilana, said the settlement of all backlogs of accrued rights demonstrated a significant achievement in public service, adding that the development reflected the Governor’s dedication to addressing the challenges faced by our retirees.

He said: “The Lagos State Pension Commission has worked diligently to ensure the timely processing and disbursement of pension benefits. In line with Mr. Governor’s vision of “A Greater Lagos Rising”, we have fulfilled his promise to clear all backlogs of accrued rights payments. Clearing the backlog of accrued rights is a significant achievement, reflecting our dedication to addressing the challenges faced by our retirees. We understand the importance of these payments in securing a comfortable and dignified retirement, and we are committed to maintaining this momentum.

“I encourage our retirees to choose wisely between Programmed Withdrawal and Annuity to select the option that best suit their individual circumstances. Please be cautious of fraudsters targeting vulnerable pensioners.”

Speaking on behalf of the retirees, Mrs. Rachael Thompson thanked Governor Sanwo-Olu for his magnanimity in ensuring prompt payment of their gratuity, which would allow retirees to enjoy the fruit of their labour.

“On behalf of the latest retirees of Lagos State, we thank Governor Sanwo-Olu for the great work he is doing. We are happy and satisfied with the good work of your administration. We pray that you and your cabinet members will not fail in Jesus’ name. God, who is the compensator of every work, will compensate your good work physically, spiritually, financially, morally, emotionally, and otherwise. We also pray for all the LASPEC officials; they will also move forward,” she prayed, and she ended her speech with an appreciation song rendered in Yoruba.

Thursday, July 4, 2024, was indeed a joyous day for pensioners in Lagos State, as they started a new chapter in their lives courtesy of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s magnanimity in putting an end to long days of waiting for retirees in the State with the creation of the Pay-As-You-Go template to secure a comfortable and dignified retirement for the retirees.

By Naija247news
By Naija247newshttps://www.naija247news.com/
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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