N3.5tr pen­sion funds di­verted un­der Jonathan – Osh­iom­hole

It’s not true, says PenCom

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Isi­aka Wak­ili & Fran­cis Arinze Iloani

Edo State Gover­nor Adams Osh­iom­hole has al­leged that the gov­ern­ment of for­mer Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan di­verted over N3.5 tril­lion pen­sion funds.

Osh­iom­hole made the al­le­ga­tion in an in­ter­view with State House re­porters yesterday shortly af­ter meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari.

The gover­nor said Jonathan’s gov­ern­ment di­verted the pen­sion funds to re­cur­rent ex­pen­di­ture.

“The truth is that a lot of money was stolen and what you’re see­ing is just a tip of the ice­berg when you imag­ine what ac­crues to Nige­ria con­sis­tently from $140 (per bar­rel) av­er­ag­ing $108 over a long pe­riod of time, and yet your trea­sury is empty, and you were run­ning a bud­get deficit, you were de­vot­ing 85 per­cent of your bud­get for four con­sec­u­tive years to re­cur­rent, you were bor­row­ing and you draw­ing the en­tire pen­sions fund.

“Yesterday (Mon­day), I saw a lot of anal­y­sis of how pen­sion funds should be in­vested on in­fra­struc­ture. You chal­lenge the Pencom and the Min­istry of fi­nance, you will dis­cover that over N3.5tril­lion was drawn down

by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment from pen­sion funds to sup­port re­cur­rent ex­pen­di­ture, not to sup­port in­fra­struc­ture.

´I be­lieve time will tell how much was taken and who was in­volved. I think what you are hear­ing now is like ap­pe­tizer. It’s sick­en­ing “, he said.

Osh­iomole said he was not sur­prised at the re­cent ar­rest of for­mer Petroleum Re­sources Min­is­ter Diezani Ali­son-Madueke by the United King­dom Na­tional Crimes Agency for crimes re­lated to bribery, cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing.

Diezani and her broth­ers, who are di­rec­tors of Hadley Petroleum So­lu­tions Lim­ited, are on trial for al­leged bribery, cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing in Lon­don.

He said: “For me, I don’t think any­body should be sur­prised be­cause the most favourable com­men­ta­tor on the Nige­rian con­di­tion, on the econ­omy, the polity and so­ci­ety, agrees that our econ­omy was badly man­aged over the past sev­eral years.

“I’ve not seen any com­men­ta­tor that dis­agrees even when they talk about re­bas­ing and so on. Have you re­based the level of poverty, un­em­ploy­ment, home­less­ness and hunger?”

On the in­volve­ment of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment in the ex-min­is­ter’s ar­rest in Lon­don, Osh­iom­hole said: “It is not about who has a hand in what. I think it is about law and or­der.

“In other climes, in­sti­tu­tions do their work, they’re not at the beck and call of po­lit­i­cal au­thor­ity, they’ve their man­date and the law spec­i­fies this and it’s scrupu­lously fol­lowed.

“I’m the hap­pi­est per­son be­cause I have been in gov­ern­ment for seven years with­out be­ing in power. I was in gov­ern­ment; I couldn’t call a com­mis­sioner of po­lice and talk as a se­cu­rity of­fi­cer.

“I am haunted by all man­ners of per­sons. You kill the snake in Edo, they’ll put the snake on life sup­port in Abuja and they keep ha­rass­ing us.

“Now, all those venoms are dead and buried. For the first time, I’m ex­cited and happy; not just for per­sonal ben­e­fit, but for the changes I am be­gin­ning to see.

“They have not started scru­ti­n­is­ing; just block­ing the holes; it’s no longer flow­ing like be­fore and so the propen­sity to in­dulge in those fraud­u­lent habits al­ready curb­ing them­selves.

“Peo­ple are re­gain­ing san­ity, hu­man ra­tio­nal­ity is re­turn­ing and the idle class that makes money with­out of­fice or busi­ness ad­dresses whose only ad­dress is an ipad and cell phone with ap­pro­pri­ate phone num­bers are all lament­ing and not sure of to­mor­row”.

Speak­ing with Daily Trust on phone last night, the Head of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Unit of the Na­tional Pen­sion Com­mis­sion (PenCom) Mr. Emeka On­uora, said it was im­pos­si­ble to di­vert pen­sion funds un­der the cur­rent Con­trib­u­tory Pen­sion Scheme (CPS) since the con­tri­bu­tions are not in cus­tody of the Com­mis­sion.

“For some­body to say that some­body di­verted funds from PenCom in terms of pen­sion funds, it will be dif­fi­cult un­der this con­di­tion be­cause pen­sion funds is in­di­vid­u­alised as per re­tire­ment sav­ings ac­counts of in­di­vid­u­als,” he said.

He said the con­tri­bu­tions were held in in­di­vid­ual Re­tire­ment Sav­ings Ac­counts (RSAs) of the con­trib­u­tors domi­ciled with li­cenced Pen­sion Fund Ad­min­is­tra­tors (PFAs).

In­sist­ing that di­ver­sion is im­pos­si­ble, On­uora said even the PFAs do not have ac­cess to the funds as such funds are in the cus­tody of Pen­sion Fund Cus­to­di­ans (PFCs) that re­lease the funds for in­vest­ments when in­structed to do so by PFAs on be­half of the con­trib­u­tors.

“That money is not even re­sid­ing with the PFAS or with PenCom. The money re­sides with PFCS and the PFCs’ re­spon­si­bil­ity is to keep the money and in­vest when in­structed by PFAs in com­pli­ance with PenCom’s guild­lines,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.