On Sunday, Delta Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said his administration inherited approximately N100 billion in unpaid pensions under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
Okowa made the announcement at the Ughelli Diocese’s third session of the Church of Nigeria’s (Anglican Communion) 8th Synod.
Bishop Agori-Iwe Memorial Church in Ughelli hosted the meeting.
According to Okowa, the financial strain forced 18 of the 26 state governments that enrolled in the system to withdraw, leaving only eight state governments in the programme, including Delta.
The governor clarified that the major obstacle that compelled some states to withdraw from the system and others to opt out was the massive backlog that amounted to billions of naira.
He said that his administration was up to date on payments to old scheme retirees.
“The old pension scheme and the contributory pension scheme are the two forms of pensions we have.
“Those on the old pension scheme are paying like we pay wages, but those on the contributory pension scheme face a significant challenge.
”This is a promising scheme, but resolving the problems associated with it would take a long time.
“As example, if someone worked for 15 years before entering the contributory pension scheme, the government is required to pay for those years, which amounts to billions of naira.
“Only 26 of the country’s 36 states have adopted the programme, and only eight states are currently contributing to it.
“When I first took office in 2015, Delta owed over N100 billion.
“The state government joined the scheme in 2007, and no money was charged for past services totaling over N100 billion until 2015.”
“I’ve paid a few billions, but it’s nothing compared to the over N100 billion we owe.
“It is something we are committed to, and I will continue to do whatever I can to ensure that by the time we are able to pay the accruals, it will no longer be a burden on future governments,” he said.
On stability, Okowa acknowledged that it was a difficult issue in Nigeria at the moment, but promised that he would continue to do his best to keep the country secure.
He urged Nigerians to pray for the state and federal governments in order to help them deal with insecurity and other problems.
Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege, the Senate’s Deputy President, also called for prayers to resolve the country’s insecurity.
He said that the country is in perilous times, adding that the death of Chadian President Idriss Deby, who was a close ally in the fight against insurgency, could exacerbate the situation.
“We are living in perilous times, and things can get worse before they get better.
“With the death of Chadian President Idris Derby, who worked tirelessly to protect the Nigerian-Chadian border, there is a risk of an influx of illicit weapons and more insurgents into the region.
“Security is a shared responsibility, not solely the responsibility of the government.
“As a result, I urge the Church to continue to preach things that will bring love and unite Nigerians rather than things that will further divide the country,” he said.
The Rt. Rev Johnson Ekwe, Bishop of Niger West Diocese (Anglican Communion), praised Okowa for his meekness and devotion to the path of humanity earlier in his Sermon.
Ekwe urged Christians to live good lives like sweet-smelling fragrance growing up to God, speaking on the topic “We are Christ fragrance unto God: A vital review of the Christian life.”