By Kingsley Okoye
The Federal Government on Thursday commissioned the first Abuja School of Pensions and Retirement Planning (ASPRP) to provide tertiary education for acquisition of vital skills and capacity in pension administration and management.
The school, a private sector driven monotechnic, is approved by the Ministry of Education, having met the requirements of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
Malam Muhammad Bello, Minister of Federal Capital Territory, said the establishment of the school was a proof of FCT administration’s commitment to encourage innovation, enterprise and ingenuity, especially in the education sector.
Bello, represented by Sen Isa Maina, said the training and planning for retirement were key for all working Nigerians who would certainly face the reality of life after retirement.
“Retirement from active employment is a reality; people must retire and face the reality of life.
“But many people face the fear of cessation of a steady income, that is why proper training and planning for retirement is a key to ensure that our senior citizens do not suffer after sacrificing so much for the service of the nation.
“And very few people have the requisite knowledge on these areas as many retirees have made mistakes while investing their retirement benefits due to poor advice.’’
Bello urged the governing council, lecturers and staff of the institution to ensure a high academic and moral standard of graduates that will emanate from the school.
He said the graduates would be required to contribute to the vital sectors of the economy.
Dr Masoud Kazaure, Executive Secretary, NBTE, said the school became necessary, giving the far-reaching implications of pensions and retirement planning to people’s lives and the economy.
Kazaure said NBTE, in partnership with National Pension Commission (PenCom), selected experts, and management of ASPRP with other major stakeholders to develop curricula in National Diploma, and Higher National Diploma in Pensions Administration and Management.
He said the school was set up to advance academic pursuit and define career roadmaps in the Nigerian pension industry, in addition to assisting workers and organisations to prepare for fulfilled retirement.
Dr Musa Ibrahim, founder of the school, called for special training for managers of the pension asset, hence the establishment of the school.
“We have a pension industry that is large and with a huge amount of funds and assets competing with the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“There is no formal processing of education, training for those people that are going to handle this asset, so we think it is imperative there should be a school.
“When we try to enquire, we found out that there is no national curriculum that has been approved neither by the NBTE or the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), so we set out on the project to initiate the school.
“We had the assistance of many stakeholders, PenCom, NBTE and several experts in the country.
“We assured that those who are going into this system will have some formal training that they will carry along including the experiences that they may have garnered from various other disciplines.’’
Ibrahim said the governing board of ASPRP also intended to partner with some universities to provide a postgraduate diploma course in management.
This, he said, was to ensure that people involved in the pension sector were formally trained to manage the pension assets.
“The owners of the fund would want to have access to the fund when they retire, so it is absolutely important to have people with capacity necessary to manage this fund when the owners retire and ensure that the funds are there.“
He said the school would also serve as a place for organisations to prepare their staff on how best to live a retirement life.
“It is also essential to prepare for retirement life in terms of resources, in terms of what one will do, in terms of accruing entrepreneurial skills, and every orgsanisation should have a retirement plan for its staff, every organisation will have to educate its staff in terms of retirement plan.
“So when they leave work, they should be able to have the capability of doing certain things.
Acting Director-General of PenCom, Mrs Aisha Dahiru-Umar, said for the pension industry to consolidate and sustain the gains and success recorded, continuous knowledge was key.
“The pension industry, which is strictly regulated and administered by a tested professional, is knowledge driven.
“It requires training and retraining every time; it is on the basis of this that the PenCom felt compared to partner with ASPRP, NBTE, to develop a nationally approved curriculum for pension benefits matters.’’
She said PenCom expected the school to produce graduates of that would contribute significantly to further development of the pension industry and the economy.
“Indeed, we do not expect anything less from the school, given the caliber of faculty that the management of the school has assembled.