Imo state, just like Abia state is one of the two states in the South East of Nigeria with huge unpaid pension liabilities. Huge pension liabilities that stretches over 6 years and have resulted to untimely death of some of our retired senior citizens .
The most tragic situation that stares Imo state and our pensioners in the face is that we do not have reliable, credible and accurate record of the state pension liabilities. The whole mess has become an endless conundrum and hydra-headed monster that have defied all analoguous and corruption infested solutions thrown at it by the current Imo state government.
Interestingly, one of the adhoc measures taken by the Buhari government to help sort out this pension arrears mess in some of the states in Nigeria was to provide bailout grants and loans to the state governments.
Several news reports and ICPC/EFCC interventions indicate clearly that the current Imo state government could not account for over N26billion of the bailout funds .
Confidential information from bankers and those in the know in places of power in Imo state show clearly that the twin evils of sleaze and corruption are the major clog on the wheel to resolving sustainably this pension logjam.
For whatever reasons best known to it, the Rochas Government and those before it, refused to embrace the novel Contributory Reformed Pension Acts and domesticate in Imo state. Today, what we have is a convoluted and messed up system, with backlog of pension arrears that will require scientific /forensic financial engineering skills to fix.
SOLUTIONS AND WAYS OUT
In the course of our research works, we identified amongst others, two major challenges militating against the sustainable and successful resolutions of this seemingly intractable problem.
Chief amongst these challenges, are the entrenched “cabal”-RABIDLY CORRUPT CIVIL SERVANTS, MASQUERADING AS UNIONISTS, who have stubbornly refused any attempt by concerned stakeholders to clean up and straighten the Imo State Pension scheme to ensure transparency in the system. For over 7 years the current government could not fix this problem. . 7 years is adequate time for any serious, strong willed and knowledgeable governor to have provided clear direction and in fact slayed the monster of pension arrears in the state and fully implement the contributory pension scheme across the whole public workforce.
Let me not digress. These entrenched interests in the public service are so powerful. They have their tentacles across the political, religious and cultural spectrum in the states. They also have very powerful POLITICAL godfathers. They also share far and wide the proceeds of their corrupt practices. They lobby and pay millions of naira to be in control of the juicy pies and have active collaborators even in the private sector, including the banks/ bankers.
The above is without prejudice to some of the very honest and hardworking men and women in the civil service, who will be glad to see an end to the activities of these monsters in the system.
The Second major challenge is the seemingly lack of that strong/stubborn political will on the part of the governments, especially, the governors or perhaps, lack of focused/honest/ deep passion/stubborn perseverance on the part of those political appointees to assist the governor with clear cut recommendations of what he can radically do to tame and destroy these monsters and entrenched interests. Then, we have the corrupt government officials too, who diverted even the adhoc bail out funds provided by Buhari to the state. Some of these government functionaries accused of diverting the bailout funds are still prancing about , claiming that they want to continue their works of destroying the lives of our pensioners as Governors.
THE MEZIE IMO TEAM INTEND TO WHOLLY TACKLE THESE FIRST MONSTER HEADLONG :
To tackle the first monster, we shall within our first 30 days in office commence / irreversibly conduct an independent / painstaking forensic verification/audit of the actual staff strength of the Imo state civil service.
Comprehensive Forensic Personnel Audit that will match job functions of each of the personnel to the needs of the state civil service. This Forensic audit must date back to the last 8 -16years. NO ADHOC /SLAP ON THE WRIST MEASURES. This exercise will also track and confirm all legitimate pension arrears still in the system. This audit must be conducted by a reputable consultancy outfit, whose remunerations shall be attached to clearly marked out performance /success matrix/parameters.
The consultants must also have capacity to design, structure and put in place an architecture that will ensure that Imo state immediately transit from the current Defined Benefits (DB) scheme (Pay as you go) to the Contributory Pension scheme. They must help the state to amend and implement the state pension bill working with the Imo state house of Assembly in line with the Reformed Pension Act of 2004 amended . The Act will give birth to a lean and efficiently staffed Imo state Pension Commission. This proposed commission, shall have four specialized divisions –Technical, Administration, Inspectorate and Finance & Investment. Its staffing must be top notch and devoid of cronyism.
This new commission shall take over the administration of Pension schemes in the state, partnering with the licensed PFAs/PFC and Deposit Money Banks in Nigeria.
The outcome of the comprehensive and forensic audit of all outstanding pension arrears in the state, will provide the state with a true picture of what her past pension liabilities are, what it maybe from the present going into the next ten years and how those arrears and potential liabilities can be scientifically and sustainably tackled/ mitigated going forward without throwing the state into unnecessary and needless pension payment crisis.
The state after identifying the true value/amount of these liabilities and future outlooks, will work/partner with the DMO, FMF, CBN and some selected Deposit Money Banks (as liquidity enhancers) issue a 5-10 year discountable bearers notes/ instrument for the benefits of the pensioners. This will ensure that there is no much burden of payments on the state.
THE ABOVE IS NOT COMPLEX AT ALL, BUT REQUIRES THE SKILLS OF SOLID/EXPERIENCED FINANCIAL ENGINEERS/INVESTMENT BANKING WHIZKIDS TO DESIGN, STRUCTURE AND IMPLEMENT. We shall do it to the glory of God and the benefit of our pensioners.
We shall also set up a sub-national debt management office in Imo state to help us restructure and refinance the huge debt burden that has been created by the outgoing government.
We shall digitize the Imo state payroll and overhead expenditure systems/ framework. We shall introduce and modify the IPPIS in Imo state and introduce true/effective Zero Budgeting processes and system in Imo state.
The Deputy Governor Of Imo state, Dr Nnaemeka Obiaraeri, FICA, MIRA, a no nonsense, deeply experienced, Licensed/Globally Certified Financial Engineer/Investment Banking Executive will directly supervise this assignment.
Mezie Imo 2019
Vote UPP, ebe esere isi agu