Ex-police officers laud Buhari, IGP, NPF Pensions over improved welfare

 Cross section of retired police officers at the forum.

 L-R: Mr. Abdulkareem Gezawa (Executive Director Operations NPF Pensions Limited; Dr. Hamza Sule Wuro Bokki, MD/CEO NPF Pensions; Owoseni Fatai, former Lagos State Police Commissioner.

By Ikechukwu Amaechi

Improved welfare and pension now enjoyed by retired police officers has galvanised them to applaud President Muhammadu Buhari and Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba.

They also commend Nigeria Police Force (NPF) Pensions Limited as well and the National Pension Commission (PenCom) for making valiant efforts to improve the welfare of serving and retired police personnel.

The applause came when NPF Pensions officials, led by the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Hamza Sule Wuro Bokki, met with more than 2000 retired police officers in Lagos on Tuesday.

Bokki disclosed that the meeting was at the behest of the IGP and the goal was to acquaint retired police officers with developments in the pension scheme and steps taken by Abuja to improve their welfare.

He informed the jubilant retirees that in line with Buhari’s approval to pay all outstanding entitlements to all verified and enrolled retirees, PenCom has so far remitted funds to Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) to pay them for May to November 2020.

Bokki said the benefits for December 2020 to date will be remitted soon, and by that all officers who retired will be paid. 

He added that the benefits for Death Benefits Batches 90 and 91 have also been released and advised the next of kin of deceased officers and other beneficiaries to commence the paperwork to collect the benefits.

Buhari’s approval of payment of benefits

Buhari recently approved PenCom’s submission on the payment of outstanding accrued rights for verified and enrolled retirees of treasury-funded MDAs as well as the backlog of death benefit claims.

He also approved the payment of 2.5 per cent differential in the rate of employer pension contribution for federal government retirees and employees which resulted from the increase in minimum pension contribution for employers from 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent in line with Section 4(1) of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014.

Bokki explained that the settlement of the outstanding accrued pension rights of verified and enrolled retired officers and compliance with the reviewed rate of pension contributions are significant developments that have resolved the challenges that have lingered for nine years.

He equally explained that the PFA was working flat out to ensure that every policeman that served Nigeria should get a commensurate pension that is not less than what any of their colleagues or peers in other public service sectors get.

The thinking of the organisation is that if retiring policemen are brought at par with other Nigerian senior citizens, they will have a sense of belonging and feel recognised.

To ensure this happens, it has recommended that the AIG rank and above be treated like their peers and go with their full salaries after retirement and 300 per cent gratuity.

Request for that is already at the presidency.

Aniefiok Udo Essiet, a retired Police Commissioner now Chairman of the Lagos branch of the Association of Retired Police Officers of Nigeria (ARPON), commended NPF Pensions for efficiently managing pension assets.

Owoseni Fatai, former Lagos State Commissioner of Police – who was once Principal Staff Officer to former IGP M.D. Abubakar – recounted the creation of NPF Pensions.

He praised Bokki for effectively leading the body to grow pension assets with huge profit which ensures that retirees have better value for their contributions.

Uniqueness of RRSS 

Owoseni also saluted the PFA for utilising part of their profit as a welfare package – Retirement Resettlement Support Scheme (RRSS) – for retirees before retirement benefits are paid.

RRSS, which started with N400 million when it was approved by the NPF Pensions Board in 2017, has grown to N500 million.

Owoseni said it is a unique corporate social responsibility (CSR).

However, Christopher Ade Atere, a retired Police Commissioner, lamented that many police officers do not know their rights hence they do not follow their money.

He said NPF Pensions is the best thing to happen to the police and lauded Bokki for his untiring efforts.

“NPF Pensions Limited is our own and because of the transparency and sincerity of the managing director, every retired policeman can hold his head high. He is so committed to the welfare of the police,” Atere stressed.

On RRSS, he said: “If you are not in NPF Pensions, you are not qualified for the resettlement scheme, you are not covered for the resettlement scheme. So, it is in your own interest as a policeman that you are in the NPF Pensions family.

“Dr. Bokki and his management team are doing wonderful things. We have to support them.”

Other retirees also commended NPF Pensions for making payment of their pensions hassle free. Those who have not benefitted from the RRSS pleaded that they be paid urgently.

They applauded Baba for initiating the meeting tagged "Retirees Forum" and suggested it be held at least twice in a year to provide retirees with information and a platform for solidarity.

“Most of us have not seen each other since our retirement. This is a very good opportunity to meet again, interact and relive old times. It is healthy,” said one of the retirees who pleaded anonymity.

All attendees were given souvenirs and transport fare.

Zonal meetings

Others who attended the meeting included DIG Sanusi Lemu, CP Sowemimo Efusola (retired), CP Akinpelu Gbemisola, AIG Adekunle Oladunjoye (retired), DIG Oshodi-Glover Agboola Samuel (retired), CP Samuel Adegboye (retired), CP Oyekunle, and CP Sunmonu Adeyemi Abdulmaliki (retired).

Bokki disclosed that the parley had been held in Gombe for the North East zone in compliance with Baba’s directive that it should hold in all the six zones.

The Gombe meeting was attended by Lemu, NPF Pensions Vice Chairman, AIG Muazu Zubairu (retired), AIG Haruna Mishellia (retired), and Secretary of ARPON Gombe State Chapter, CP Abubakar Mohammed (retired).

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