A coalition of civil society, Centre for Public Accountability today addressed newsmen in Lagos, challenging the Director General of National Pension Commission, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu to account for N42 billion so far allegedly collected as asset fees on the N5.4 trillion pension assets of the nation.
The full text of the press briefing is published below:
It is my pleasure welcoming you to this press conference occasioned by our year long observations and studies of development and happenings at the National Pension Commission.
We intend to bring to the attention of Nigerians and President Muhammadu Buhari the long list of infractions, mismanagement and maladministration ongoing at the commission under the leadership of Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu.
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 allegedly 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.
Nigerians would recall that the former administration 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 is 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:
- Annual Collection and mismanagement of an alleged .3 % Fees on pension assets
The commission allegedly collects annually three percent on the total pension assets which presently stands at N5.4 trillion. Annually the commission also allegedly collects about N15billion as fees which it spend 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 has allegedly collected N42 billion which she cannot account for.
We specifically call on the President to order investigation into how the alleged 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. Allegedly, the commission also 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.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 allegedly 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.
We are of the view that the President does 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 Mr. President 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 alleged about 48 billion annual assets pension fee collected by the commission;
• Orders the commission to stop forthwith the corruption laden annual world pension summit coming up on the 27 28 of this month; and
• Orders the Director General to implement the transfer window clause in line with the requirement of the enabling law of the commission.
* Orders the Director General to return First Guarantee Pension to the rightful owners and obey court orders;
* 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.