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Petition On The State Of The National Pension Commission; A Call For Immediatiate Probe

By Centre for Public Accountability (CPA)
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The Centre for Public Accountability, brings you solidarity greetings on behalf of the leadership of the various organisations represented by this Coalition.

We must first and foremost, commend the untiring effort of your administration in the fight against corruption, as we collectively work together as partners in Nation’s Building in our aspiration to rid our country of the menace of corruption.

We are of the strong opinion, that for the ongoing Anti-Corruption War to be Successful, our Nation must ensure that there are no sacred cows, and no stone is left unturned in the course of the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

We are writing this petition, as patriotic Nigerians, and stakeholders in the Nigeria project, as we wish to call on your good office, to in the interest of our Nation, order an immediate probe into the allegations of activities of the National Pensions Commission, PENCOM.

Sir, We intend to bring to your attention, the long list of infractions, mismanagement and maladministration ongoing at the commission under the leadership of Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu.

As you may be aware, the Pension Reform Act was enacted in 2004 for sustainable management of retirement benefits of citizens who worked within the public or private sectors of the federation. As at today, the accumulated pension assets stand at about N5.4 trillion. From that period to date, we want to assert that the commission has never been in the worst state than it is today.

Mr. President, you would recall that the former administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, changed the pension law specifically to benefit the current Director General. Like former President Jonathan, Ms Anohu made history as she became the first Nigerian to witness the signing ceremony of the law that would usher her into headship of a commission in substantive capacity. That partly why we have the mismanagement currently ravaging the commission.

Based on details of happenings within the commission, we wonder if truly the anti-corruption war is really biting. If the present administration is cleaning up the oil and military sectors, why the unholy silence over the pension sector? Why is everybody looking the other way on the scam house called the pension commission?

We affirm that the commission is bedeviled with multiple infractions, violations of the law and widespread corruption that warrant immediate and urgent attention of Mr. President. We detail below some of the questionable activities ongoing within the commission:

1. Annual Collection and mismanagement of 0.3 % Fees on pension assets

The commission collects annually, 0.3 percent on the total pension assets which presently stands at N5.4 trillion. Annually the commission collects about N15billion as fees which it spends without any accountability. We challenge the commission to publish how it has expended that annual fund which is regarded as slush fund by insiders. As at December 2015, the current Director General of PENCOM has collected N42 billion which she cannot account for till date.

We specifically call on the President to order an immediate investigation into how the N42 billion fees collected by the commission was expended from 2012 to date.

2. Non-Implementation of Transfer Window

The enabling act prescribes that subscribers should be allowed to transfer their pension deposits from one pension fund administrator to another in any given year.12 years after, the commission has refused to implement that clause as a cover for corruption. The commission annually spends about N3billion on IT upgrade and revamp without the realization of the transfer window. Nigerians deserve to know why depositors are not allowed to migrate if they so wish. We want to know why billions are spent without such migration being realized. Mr President should probe why the Director General has not obeyed a statutory provision.

3. Illegal Application of Regulatory Powers:

In addition to not implementing statutory provision as above, records showed that the commission under the current Director General has deployed regulatory powers of the commission for selfish, illegal and family usage. Pension administrators and custodians are harassed and subjected to unholy surcharges including share takeover among others.

Currently, the families of commission Director Generals are the owners of Premium Pension. May we also inform you, that the commission also took over First Guarantee Pension under flimsy excuses and has refused to obey court orders directing a return of the firm to the owners. For more than five years, the commission held on to the firm and is scheming to sell it to interest known to be close to its Director General.

4. Wasteful Expenditure on Family Owned World Pension Summit:

Annually, the commission plays host to the World Pension Summit, a body owned by two brothers from the United States. The commission forced pension administrators and custodians to pay participation fees while the commission itself spends almost a billion naira annually to host the annual event. The 2016 edition of that event is scheduled to hold by September 27 to 28 in Transcorp Hilton Abuja.

In this era of recession, this is not just wasteful but corruption laden and out of tune with the spirit of the era. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Director General to stop the summit forthwith as Nigeria and pensioners can ill afford such wasteful and extravagant event meant to enrich a family alleged to be working on behalf of the commission management.

OUR PRAYERS
We are of the view that Your Excellency may not know the full extent of the rot and corruption within the pension commission. That sector needs urgent clean up if the world, pensioners and workers are to take the administration seriously.

We call on you to do the following to salvage the image of the nation especially with respect to the rot within the National Pension Commission:

· Directs the Director General to account for the about 48 billion annual assets pension fee collected by the commission;

· Order the commission to stop forthwith the corruption laden annual world pension summit coming up on the 27 28 of this month; and as we shall not hesitate to occupy the venue of the forthcoming wasteful conference if PENCOM Proceeds with its plan.

· Order the Director General to implement the transfer window clause in line with the requirement of the enabling law of the commission.

* Order the Director General to return First Guarantee Pension to the rightful owners and obey court orders; Nigeria is not a Banana republic and our laws must be respected at all times.

* Directs the Director General and her families to divest their shares in Premium Pension in view of current conflict of interest; and

* Appoints new Director General and Commissioners to sanitise pension administration in the country.

  • We also call for an immediate investigation into the activities of PENCOM, under its present leadership, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corruption Practices and other related offences related Commission, ICPC.

While thanking you in anticipation of your usual good tidings, may we assure your Excellency of our regards for your esteem regards to your good Office.

Yours faithfully,
Comrade Olufemi Lawson,
Executive Director,
Centre for Public Accountability, CPA