N3.5tr pension funds diverted under Jonathan – Oshiomhole
It’s not true, says PenCom
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.