First, Business Day gave Malam Nasir El-Rufai an award of Governor of the Year. In 2019, The Sun Newspaper also crowned him its Governor of the Year. Penultimate Saturday, the same award was given to the Executive Governor of Kaduna state, this time by the Vanguard newspaper. Undoubtedly, El-Rufai deserves all these accolades and much more for obvious reasons.
Significantly, his approach to governance is unique and result-oriented. In this regard, Kaduna state has been the better for it. For example, the World Bank rated it first in the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, amongst all subnationals, in the year 2020. Largely, this ranking was achieved by dint of hard work, due diligence and unwavering focus. In addition, Kaduna State Government was ranked as the subnational that attracted Direct Foreign Investment last year, ahead of Lagos state. In different spheres of Governance, the governor has shown commitment and great dedication to implementation of his policies, not just leaving them on paper.
One area where the governor has cracked one of the hardest nuts is in the overhauling the Pension Scheme. In 2016, Governor El-Rufai commenced the Contributory Pension Scheme, to replace the Defined Pension Scheme System.
In the Contributory Pension Scheme, the employee contributes 7% monthly while the employer, in this case the state government, contributes 8%. Under this scheme, both the employer and the employee are involved, unlike the Define Benefit Scheme. Every employee in the new scheme is expected to have a Retirement Savings Account (RSA), more like a bank account, into which those contributions are remitted. However, a retiree must have put in 35 years of service or attained the age of 50 years before accessing the pension.
Upon retirement, in accordance with the terms and conditions of employment, the retiree may withdraw a lump sum of money, of not more than 25% of the amount standing to the credit of his Retirement Saving Account (RSA), provided such withdrawals shall only be made after two months of such retirement, and the retiree has not secured another employment. In the old Defined Benefit Scheme, payment of pension was haphazardly done and in some cases, our senior citizens were not paid for several months. There have been traumatizing cases of old and sick people dying on queues just to get their pensions.
However, the El-Rufai administration, with this new policy, has turned the tide in pension payments in Kaduna state for the better. When the administration came on board, it inherited N15bn of pension arrears, and six years later, it has successfully paid N13bn out of that amount. In addition, the government has paid over N13 billion of the current Contributory Pension Scheme as well.
Indeed, there are a few glitches on the pension success story but the government is not to blame. Some public servants that have not registered with any Pension Fund Administrator (PFA). For this reason, the Kaduna Pension Bureau is unable to credit their accounts or transfer their contributions. But as soon as they register with a PFA, the Bureau will transfer the total amount deducted from their salaries into their Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs).
In addition, some retirees have not started enjoying their pensions. The reason is simple: government inherited a huge backlog from the previous administration and it is adopting the “First-to retire, first-to-be-paid” method to clear the arrears. So, recent retirees are in the queue and as the line inches forward, it will eventually get to their turn. Kaduna state’s Putting People First ideology is committed to putting smiles on its 10 million residents, including senior citizens—that is why Governor Nasir El-Rufai is garnering accolades and awards.