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Labour rejects plans by Nigerian govt to use pension funds to drive infrastructural development

The Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress have petitioned the federal government, cautioning it against deploying funds domiciled in the National Pension Fund Scheme to drive economic and infrastructural development across the country.

The letter, which was copied to the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Minister of Labour, the Head of Service, among other top government functionaries, lamented that the plans by the government to deploy part of the funds to drive economic growth were already sending apprehension to workers in the civil service.

NLC and TUC said the recent announcement by the Finance Minister regarding the government’s intention to utilize the substantial pension funds of N19.66 trillion for infrastructural development has ignited deep apprehension and unrest among Nigerian workers, who are the primary contributors and eventual beneficiaries of these funds.

Labour, while underscoring the severity of the matter at hand, said the revelation that the government has already accessed nearly 70% of the entire pension fund value is not merely alarming; it is utterly unacceptable.

In the statement jointly signed by Comrad. Joe Ajaero for NLC and Etim Okon for TUC emphasised that Nigerian workers have entrusted their hard-earned savings for retirement security, not as a means for government projects.

“It is imperative to halt any further plans to tap into these funds, especially given the lack of transparency and accountability in past government borrowing practices. Your proposal to further leverage these funds for the purported betterment of housing and infrastructural sectors raises serious questions about fiscal prudence and responsible governance.

“Where does the government intend to source the additional N20 trillion it seeks to acquire, especially considering the ambiguity surrounding previous borrowing practices? The lack of clarity on this matter only fuels skepticism regarding the feasibility and sustainability of your initiative.

“Nigerian workers rightfully demand assurances that their retirement funds will not fall victim to further federal government borrowing, especially when the PENCOM Board has not been constituted as envisaged by the statutes. One is left to wonder which board superintends over such discussion with the government seeking to borrow from this fund, which is not backed by the Pension Act.

“Despite the government’s assurances of widespread consultation with major stakeholders in the pension industry, it is disheartening to note that the NLC and TUC, representing the owners of the entire Pension fund contributions, have

neither been consulted nor informed about the government’s intentions.

“This lack of transparency undermines the sanctity of pension funds, which should be treated with the utmost reverence and protection at all times. It is incumbent upon the government to prioritize alternative sources of funding that do not imperil the financial security of Nigerian workers.

“We insist that any initiative aimed at leveraging pension funds for national development must be – executed with utmost transparency, accountability, and respect for the rights and interests of workers,” the labour leaders stressed.

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