Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State says his administration will be in the forefront of ensuring efficient and effective pension scheme administration to make life comfortable for retirees.

Ambode, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Adebule, made the pledge at the 18th Retirement Benefit Bond Certificate Presentation Ceremony in Lagos on Thursday.

He said that Lagos was the only state government that was up-to-date in pension contribution remittances.

”Our employees are our greatest assets and this is why we are not only committed to ensuring that they enjoy good conditions of service, but to also ensuring that their entitlements are paid promptly when they retire.

”We are aware that some parastatals have not fully complied with the provisions of the State Pension Reform Laws in terms of regular remittances of contributions into employees’ Retirement Savings Account.

”This will not be tolerated by this administration as the resultant effect of non-conformity is that many will retire without any provision made for the payment of their terminal entitlements.

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”We are also aware that we still have backlog of retirees who are yet to receive their entitlements, especially at Local Governments and SUBEB.

”This administration is a people-oriented government. We understand that you have spent the better part of your lives in service of this state and you deserve to live in peace and comfort in retirement, ” he said.

Ambode said that the government would ensure that retirees get paid their terminal entitlements as and when due.

Also speaking, Mrs Folashade Onanuga, Director-General, Lagos State Pension Board, said that the gesture was a continued testimony of the successful administration by the state government.

Onanuga said that the government had taken the bull by the horn by first releasing the sum of N11 billion to immediately bring succour to those retirees on the waiting list.

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”It is your right to live in comfort at retirement, having utilised the better part of your active lives serving the state government.

”Today, a total sum of N2.2 billion has been paid into the Retirement Savings Account of 658 retirees. The rest of the fund will be paid accordingly to systematically clear the outstanding pension shortfall.

”This, in essence, brings the total number of retirees under the Lagos State Government Pension Scheme to 7, 099, ” she said.

Onanuga also urged retirees and beneficiaries to spend their money wisely.

In her remarks, Mrs Grace Uzoro of the National Pension Commission said that pension scheme was aimed at putting smiles on the faces of those who had laboured to serve the country.

Uzoro commended the Lagos State Government for being at the forefront of championing the scheme.

According to her, Lagos State has made Nigeria proud as the government is a government of action in terms of retirees’ welfare.

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Uzoro urged other state governments to emulate Lagos State to ensure their employees retire with peace of mind.

Mr Leo Onayemi, who spoke on behalf of the retirees, said that the gesture was unexpected as most of them thought they would never get their entitlements.

”It is a great day for all of us. Gov. Ambode has not spent up to four months in office and he has been able to achieve this.

”We will continue to support him in every way for making us reap the fruit of our labour, ” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that 658 retirees were presented with the Retirement Benefit Bond Certificates.

It would be recalled that on Aug. 5, Gov. Ambode directed that pension cash assets in the sum of N11billion be immediately deployed to offset pension liabilities in arrears since year 2010.

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