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“Utilize N19.5 Trillion Pension Assets for National Development” – Obasanjo

"Utilize N19.5 Trillion Pension Assets for National Development" – Obasanjo Obasanjo and others Criticize Tinubu's Leadership, Call for Reforms

In a recent interview, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has advocated for the utilization of the country’s substantial pension fund assets, totaling N19.5 trillion as of January 2024, for national development initiatives, particularly focusing on infrastructure investments. Speaking with Oguche Agudah, the chief executive of the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp), Obasanjo emphasized the importance of deploying these assets in a safe and sustainable manner that safeguards the interests of pensioners.

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"Utilize N19.5 Trillion Pension Assets For National Development" – Obasanjo 7

Reflecting on the remarkable growth of pension assets over the past 20 years, Obasanjo expressed his surprise and satisfaction with the positive impact it has had on the nation’s financial landscape. He underscored the need for strategic investment in infrastructure, stating, “What the pension industry needs to do now is to see how the pension assets that have been saved over the years can help more in national development, especially infrastructure investments in a safe and sustainable manner that does not jeopardize people’s pensions.”

Obasanjo’s remarks come as Nigeria commemorates 20 years since the initiation of pension reforms, a milestone marked by significant progress in pension administration. Recalling his administration’s role in instituting these reforms, Obasanjo highlighted the simplicity of their approach, stating, “It’s simple, we just see what other countries are doing and if it’s good for us we copy it and adapt.”

The Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), implemented during Obasanjo’s tenure, has been instrumental in transforming the pension landscape in Nigeria. Under the CPS, pension administration was professionalized, moving management to the private sector and alleviating the government’s burden of unsustainable pension liabilities. This strategic shift laid the foundation for the substantial growth of pension assets witnessed in recent years.

When Obasanjo’s administration first introduced the pension reforms and advocated for the passage of the Pension Reform Act, they could not have anticipated the rapid growth of pension assets or the positive outcomes it would yield. However, the foresight and commitment to reform have proven instrumental in shaping Nigeria’s pension system into a robust and efficient mechanism for retirement planning.

The Pension Reform Act, enacted in 2004, marked a pivotal moment in Nigeria’s journey towards modernizing its pension system. Serving as the cornerstone of comprehensive reform efforts, the Act established a framework for effective pension management, empowering the private sector to assume responsibility for pension administration and mitigating the risks associated with government-led schemes.

As Nigeria reflects on two decades of pension reforms, stakeholders are encouraged to explore innovative ways to leverage pension fund assets for national development. Infrastructure investments, in particular, hold immense potential for driving economic growth, enhancing productivity, and improving the quality of life for all citizens. By channeling pension funds into strategic projects, Nigeria can unlock new opportunities for sustainable development and prosperity.

Looking ahead, the challenge lies in striking a balance between maximizing returns on pension investments and ensuring the long-term security of retirees. As Obasanjo aptly noted, the key is to pursue infrastructure investments in a manner that safeguards pension funds from undue risk, prioritizing both the nation’s development goals and the welfare of pensioners.

In commemorating 20 years of pension reforms, Nigeria stands poised to build upon its achievements and chart a course towards a more inclusive and prosperous future. With visionary leadership, prudent stewardship of pension assets, and a steadfast commitment to national development, Nigeria can harness the transformative power of pensions to drive progress and prosperity for generations to come.

This Article is Fact-Checked. See Policy.
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