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PENSION FRAUDS

By NBF News
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THE National Assembly chooses its moments to titillate the public with details of misuses of public funds. The latest ridiculous revelations of alleged theft and mismanagement of pension funds are only bits of the mess the country is in without deep concerns from the authorities.

What makes the matter more ridiculous is that the Senate, which is conducting the investigations, does not realise that its ineptitude is hugely responsible for the sleaze.

How could a nation permit such massive looting of its resources? Some of the figures from Chairman of the Presidential Task

Team on Pension, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina -
About N3.3billion lost monthly to fraudsters
A civil servant in the pension racket had 555 accounts in the same bank.

Government was paying N5 billion monthly as pension instead of N1.7billion

N28 billion police pension fund found in an illegal account

258,000 pensioners on pay roll instead of 70,657 genuine pensioners

44,320 retirees never paid pension since 1968 and 1975

N1 billion monthly illegal withdrawals from police pension

N151 billion fraud uncovered so far
Some are already accusing the Task Force Team of profligacy.  Whatever it is, it is incredible that hundreds of thousands of pensioners go through agonies to collect their pittance while some fed fat on their entitlements.

Under Section 88 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, the Senate has powers to investigate

(a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws, and (b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for - (i) executing or administering laws enacted by National Assembly, and (ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.

Among the purposes of these provisions, according to Section 88 (2b), is to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.

Instructively, it took the Senate almost 13 years of pensioners crying over their plight for the Senate to respond. We can only imagine what was mismanaged in 13 years if the present figures were for a few years. Why did it take that long?

All government agencies, and various aspects of our lives, are under the over-sight diligence of some Senate committees. What do the committees do?

Delays in diligent legislators' probing of government agencies produce these results. It could be worse in other agencies. Will the Senate have the guts to see that the culprits are punished?  Will this be another public show?