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PUA00390 - NIGERIAN PENSION REFORMS AS A CATALYST TO POVERTY REDUCTION


CHAPTER ONE

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1.1     BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

 

Naturally, it is pertinent for man to pass through a life cycle (childhood, youth and adulthood/old age), except in an occasion when this cycle is denied by untimely death. Likelihood, the working lives of employees move continuously towards a certain direction; that is, from employment, to growth, to retirement (or can be terminated either by death or disability). Since man is naturally born to grow and become old – the stage when it is usually too difficult to work and earn a living – planning for retirement/old age becomes cognizant. The extent an individual is committed to this cause during his active productive years makes a difference in the quality of life he enjoys at his old age and longevity. As people grow old they work, produce, and earn less and therefore need a secure source of income, in order to outsmart penury, starvation, poverty; as well to see them through their lifetime. To this extent, societies and governments have developed mechanisms to provide income security for their older citizens as part of the social safety net for reducing poverty. No doubt, these arrangements should be a source of concern for everyone – rich as well as poor, young as well as old – because the arrangements adopted can either help or hinder economic growth (World Bank, 1994).

 

Therefore, Pension has been a common global issue in the contemporary literature, discourse. The past decade has brought importance of the uniformity of pension

 

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systems to the economic stability of nations and the quality of life and longevity of their workers after retiring from active service (Holzmann and Hinz, 2005). This nevertheless, there has been an emergence of what Barr (2006) called „a pension crisis‟ caused by high and rising pension costs which has created panicking. Of a truth, the global trend is a total paradigm shift towards definite and fully funded contributory schemes. In most countries pension plans are defined benefit plans financed on a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) basis, through pay roll taxes that can be adjusted periodically to ensure that revenues are sufficient to meet current pension obligation (Dalang, 2006). However, the World Bank, in 1994 published a path-breaking seminal book on pension reform entitled, “Averting the Old Age Crisis: Policies to Protect the Old and Promote Growth” (Orszag and Stiglitz, 1999). The

 

Bank delivered its new ideas on pension systems in this landmark report which became the reference point for the Bank‟s approach to pension reforms. It advocated a move away from pay-as-you-go financing which has dominated pension provision in both rich and poor countries. The report backed compulsory funded pensions, and paid for by workers saving part of their earnings in retirement accounts. Since 1994 the Bank has been involved in pension reform in more than 80 countries, and provided financial support for countries to grow. According to the Bank, the main objectives of pension systems are: poverty alleviation, consumption smoothing from one‟s work life into retirement and the broad goal of social protection. Consequently, reforms along these lines have been

 

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carried out mainly in Latin America and the post-Soviet “transition countries”.

 

Chile was the first to embark on the reform as early as 1981. In all, twelve countries in Latin America have passed laws introducing mandatory savings; ten have implemented them. In Europe and Central Asia, fourteen countries have decided to introduce individual accounts whilst ten actually made the change (Dalang, 2006; Holzmann and Hinz, 2005). After a critical assessment of the various pension schemes of the various countries, the World Bank on 21st

February, 2005, released a new report titled “Old Age Income Support in the 21st

 

Century”: An International Perspective on Pension Systems and Reform”. The report emphasized the need for change as most pension schemes in the world do not deliver on their social objectives. Pension schemes create distortions, impose marginalization, old age poverty, post retirement sufferings and ultimately lead to untimely death. Above all, they distort market economies and are financially unsustainable because they are expensive to run and the process fraudulent even by those mandated to administer the pensions (Asuquo, Akpan and Tapang, 2012). In an attempt to reposition pensions, the report stated that any pension reform should consider:

 

  1. The informal sector which incidentally makes up for more than half of the labour force

 

  1. Catering for people who will be poor throughout their lives, and

 

 

 

 

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iii.      Those  that  will  be  physically  challenged              In  1996,  the  International

 

Development Targets (IDTs) were set to improve economic well-being, social and human development and ensure environmental sustainability and regeneration in readiness for the fight against poverty in the emerging Millennium. In September, 2000, 149 world leaders adopted the United Nations Millennium Development Declarations which its fundamental values bind countries to do more in the realm of human development. Part of the mandate was to „halve the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day and who suffer from hunger‟. Emerging from the Millennium Development Declarations are Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are a set of specific, qualified and time-bound targets on the various dimensions of human development – income, poverty, hunger, health, education, gender, equality, and environmental sustainability. Their importance for the global community is exemplified by their increasingly becoming the driving force for development policy internationally, the means for productive life for the billions plus people living in extreme poverty as a way to secure a peaceful world for all (UN, 2013; NEEDS, 2004). Therefore, Income security in old age is a problem in Nigeria, as well in the globe; but its manifestations differ in different parts of the world. Agreeably, in Nigeria, old people were cared for through the extended family system. The aged had the opportunity to live with the children and younger relatives who provided him with his needs. Today, the story is different because the society is dynamic. There has been dislocation in the societies set up brought about by rural-urban migration of

 

 

 

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youth and young people in search of white collar jobs. The demographic changes have affected the traditional parent-offspring relationship. They now live in very distant locations apart from one another. Western civilization made it possible for people to seek for paid employment in urban cities which sometimes are far away from their villages. The evolution of paid employment precipitated the concept of pension. The idea is that since workers spend the whole of their productive lives working for their employers, they (employers) in turn should, of necessity, make adequate plan for the up-keep of their workers after they retire from active service. Conversely, Pension, simply connotes a form of official obligation in any employment relationship. It is a legal and economic obligation in which employers of labour are mandated to fulfill in her contractual relationship with employees. It is a form of employers‟ benevolence towards employees (Pitch and Wood, 1979) quoted in Inyokwe (2013). Pension plans are usually established by a legal document called a trust deed with the declaration that the funds would be administered in accordance with the rules spelt out in the document. Employers offer pension benefits to attract, retain and reward employees. Employees, on the other hand, rely on retirement benefits as a form of financial security in their less productive years (Babatunde, 2012). Thus, Pension industry in Nigeria has witnessed reforms over the years with the prevalence of crisis. Employees and employers do not usually realize the necessity for planning adequately ahead for their retirement and retirement of their employees, respectively because the concept of pension is tie to them. This explains why most private sectors had no pension schemes

 

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for their employees and as such the workers who retired from such private sector organizations had no retirement benefits. Even where the scheme existed it was poorly organized. The same poor attitude to pension schemes was prevalent in the public sector where governments saw pension scheme as compensation and public civil servants in pension management handled it unethically, hence, the preponderance of crisis (accumulation of huge pension liabilities, large scale misappropriation of pension funds, etc.) in the pension industry before the enactment of Pension Reform Act 2004. This act however proliferates abject poverty among the retired civil servants. Moreover, the first pension law in Nigeria was the Pension Ordinance of 1951. It was later transformed into Pension Act 1958. This was the first attempt by the colonial administration to provide for the full pension rights of the colonial administrators. However, some limited right was granted to the Nigerian workers in the civil service at the discretion of the colonial Governor General. The government operated a pay-as-you-go pension system. The pension administration in the public sector was largely Defined Benefit (DB) pension scheme which was neither funded nor contributory. The pay-as-you-go (PAYG) scheme was mandatory to the public sector but optional in the private sector. The scheme was characterized by massive accumulation of pension debt which made the scheme unsustainable due to lack of adequate and timely budgetary provisions as well as increases in salaries and pensions. There were also demographic shifts due to rising life expectancies, pensioners live longer which added to the pension expenditure (Ahmad, 2006; Balogun, 2004).

 

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Besides, the administration of the scheme was very unrealistic, inefficient, less transparent and cumbersome. This led bureaucratic bottle necks and corrupt practices. Huge amount of resources were expended in yearly verification exercises. This also failed to provide the desired prompt and efficient payment of pension; and therefore increases poverty rates among retirees. The aforementioned point is because the pension industry was not properly organized. There were poor supervision of pension fund administrators in the effective collection, management and disbursement of pension funds; the various governments were insincere about pension. The aftermath of these developments and more led retirees to become more or less beggars (Toye, 2006).The administrators developed some unwholesome behaviors in the disbursement of pension funds; as against the rationale for it establishment. That is, pension was initiated nonetheless to extricates, eradicates and reduces poverty in the lives of aged retired civil servants.

 

1.2     STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM

 

The fear of uncertainty after retirement is also responsible for age falsification among civil servants in Nigeria. Retirement in Nigeria is now synonymous with deprivation, starvation and suffering. Life after retirement is one of the difficult periods of most civil servant in Nigeria; often, gratuities and pensions are not paid as and when due, consequently, retirees cannot afford three square meals a day, talk less of paying school fees for their children, pay house rents or take care of other necessities of life (Global Action on Ageing, 2006). It is observable that most often a number of these

 

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pensioners die without accessing their entitlements. In a bid to make ends meet, retirees even at very old age look for employment or jobs. Although the pension industry has witnessed series of reforms since independence, the implementation has not actually made any significant impact in the welfare of the beneficiaries – pensioners. This is because pension administration in Nigeria is poorly handled. The problem with Nigeria is that most of its laws are only good on the paper. Nigerians are recently projected globally in very bad image because of scandalous and startling revelations of massive looting and fraud masterminded by serving civil servants against their former colleagues who had left service. A staggering amount running into inestimable trillions was looted from pension funds by the stakeholders in the administration and management of pensions (Gbenga, 2012; Emewu, 2012). This was just one out of many of the massive looting and “scramble” to empty public treasury.

 

The fraud is not only in pension funds, it is also obtainable in the entire public service. It is only in this era of societal decay and deadly quest for materialism that “a rat can conveniently eat the fish hung round its neck”. It is only in today‟s Nigeria that public servants embezzle funds in their custody without adequate punishment. The institutionalized procedures for sanctions against fraud are treated casually as mere rituals. These precipitated neglect in the administrative accountability and transparency in daily activities of public servants. And also, sequential pension reforms ought to catalyzed poverty reduction in Nigeria context, among the retired

 

 

 

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civil servants; it is therefore disgruntling to say that the laudable objective of pension

 

reform Act 2004 failed substantially.

 

1.3     RESEARCH QUESTIONS

 

  1. Is the institutional framework for the implementation of the Pension Reforms Act of 2004 significantly effective and efficient in delivering pensioners‟ welfare in

 

Ministry of Women Affair, Ilorin, Kwara State?

 

  1. Has the implementation of the Pension Reforms Act of 2004 significantly enhanced the pensioners‟ welfare in Ministry of Women Affair, Ilorin, Kwara State?

 

  1. What are the possible measures for effective and efficient implementation of the pension reform?

 

1.4     OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

 

The general objective of this study is to carefully study Nigeria pension reform in relations to poverty reduction in Kwara state Ministry of Women Affairs; and why these schemes have failed to achieved efficacies and efficiencies in the ministry. And other objectives are to:

 

1) ascertain whether the implementation of the 2004 Pension reforms had enhanced the pensioners‟ welfare.

 

2)       find out if the institutional framework for the implementation of the Pension

 

Reform Act 2004 is sufficient in delivering pensioners‟ welfare in Kwara state

 

Ministry of women affairs, Ilorin

 

 

 

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3)       Proffer  possible  techniques  in  the  implementation  of  pension  reforms  in

 

Kwara state ministry of women affair, Ilorin.

 

1.4.1 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

 

Ho1       The problems of pension scheme have significantly affected the pensioners‟

 

welfare in Ministry of Women Affairs, Ilorin.

 

 

Ho2:   The  implementation  of  Pension  Reform  Act  2004  has  not  significantly

 

enhanced the pensioners‟ welfare in Ministry of Women Affairs, Ilorin.

 

 

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

 

 

The content of this study will help the employers and implementers of the pension Act to acknowledge the fact that the enactment of the Act is as important as its implementation and that for this well-designed pension plan to deliver on its policy outcome this study must serve as a reference point by all the stakeholders and must rise up to the inherent challenges. It is also expected that the knowledge of this thesis will help contributors and pensioners to develop confidence in the pension scheme. These findings will contribute to the existing knowledge in the field of public Administration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1.6 SCOPE AND THE LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

 

 

This study is specifically restricted to Kwara state Ministry of Women Affairs, Ilorin; Kwara state. For the purpose of effectiveness of research and data gathering, the study intends to study, „Nigeria Pension Reform as a catalyst to Poverty reduction‟. And the content scope covers the implementation of the Pension Reform Act 2004 as it affects the pensioners‟ welfare in Kwara state Ministry of Women Affairs, Ilorin; restricted to management staff. And however, this study is faced with time constraint and academic overloads. These would therefore be managed in order to ensure quality research; this research covers a short period of time.