ALLEGATION OF IMPROPRIETY : CSO report exonorate PENCOM Director General, alert Presidency of sponsored campaigns against heads of MDAs
A coalition of over seventy registered Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria under the auspices of the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria has condemned what it tagged sponsored media campaign against heads of ministry, departments and agencies of government appointed under the previous administration. The coalition made the statement at a joint world press conference of the CSOs Task force report on allegation of financial misappropriation and impropriety against the Director General of the National Pension Commission, Hajia Aisha Dahiru Umar in Abuja on Wednesday.
Leader of the Task force, Dr Ohalete Wisdom while reading the report says their investigation reveals that certain Politically exposed persons are out to take jobs of current heads of MDAs and have resorted to blackmail and propaganda using non existing allegations to make the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu led government to sack existing persons from office. Dr Ohalete explained that the National Pension Commission is the third organization where the CSOs have investigated and have found all allegations to be false and discovered they were all sponsored by some politicians with affiliations with the presidential villa.
The Civil Society Groups warned that this trend if not curtailed has tendencies to distract performing government’s functionaries. He listed NSCDC and NUPRC as other agencies where such have been noticed. Find below details of the report
*Preliminary report of Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, Arising From The Thorough Investigation of Alleged Financial Misappropriation Against the Director General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) Aisha Dahir-Umar*
Following an allegation of graft, financial misappropriation and fraud levelled against the Director General of National Pension Commission, otherwise know as PenCom for short form by a group which goes by the name Centre for Public Accountability (CPA), as an organisation that encourages and promotes transparency, integrity and trust in the running of government affairs, as a coalition of CSOs with mandate to intervene in public interest over issues relating to graft and general public complain in government circle, we immediately swung into action with a view to determining the veracity or otherwise of allegation.
For proper understanding, the management of PenCom under the headship of Mrs. Aisha Umar-Dahir was accused of receiving a humongous amount of money in estacode among other issues contained in the petition. According to the allegation as enumerated by the accusers and being amplified by an online newspaper, the amount of money being claimed to have been received by the Director General in estacode is “millions of dollars”. They further put figures to it, which among others include, $1,800,480, N4,965,327 and others.
Rattled by the “gravity” of this allegation, we quickly activated our team of Investigators, comprising financial experts, forensic auditors, special fraud examiners and investigative journalists.
This patriotic assignment led our team to digging deep into the allegation, using our vast network to unravel the true state of affairs with the primary aim of making the appropriate recommendation(s) to the relevant institutions of government on the right step to take.
However, after the arduous task, the team came to the realization that the accusations are false, frivolous, unfounded, malicious and figment of the imagination of the actors whose primary aim we came to understand is to distract the Director General from her giant reformatory drive in the commission. Simply put, the allegations and the documents being bandied were hurriedly cooked up by seekers of favour as a bargaining chip to seek political appointment under the President Bola Tinubu government.
While it is not in our position to dissuade people from pursuing their political career, doing so at the crude expense of another man is not only criminal, callous and ungodly but a demonstration of weakness, lack dignity and open exhibition desperation.
For the avoidance of doubt, it was alleged that the said estacode was received in the year 2020. This again raises a red flag in the entire choreographed episode. You will agree with me that the entire global community was on a total lockdown — no movement of persons within and outside the country. In fact, there was no inter-state travels as a result Covid-19 pandemic which held the global community by the jugular. Despite this, our team meticulously and methodologically deployed their technical know-how and discovered NOTHING implicating against the Director General.
Further investigations however revealed that what was at play is simply a demonstration of envy, bitterness, powerplay and unexplained gang up against the Director General by persons who are afraid that the giant feat she has achieved since assumption of office is displacing the old order, thereby thwarting their efforts to keep the entire sector perpetually backward in a rapidly moving world for their own nefariously selfish intentions. It is one of those scenarios where people fabricate malicious allegations to cheaply blackmail performing heads of government institutions with the primary objective to distract them and instigate their appointor (the President) against them.
At the risk of sounding immodest, it is safe to say that the Director General through her sterling performance has dwarfed the records of all her predecessors and has gone ahead to raise the country’s pension asset from N6.42 trillion Naira in 2017 when she came on board to N15.5 trillion Naira as at February 2023.
The successful recapitalization of the pension industry from N1 billion to N5 billion, which she supervised has without any shadow of doubt built the confidence of investors and indeed every stakeholder within the pension value chain.
Another first in the nation’s pension industry is the approval of structured reduction of fees on the Net Asset Value of pension fund assets as well as the introduction of the Micro Pension Plan for the participation of informal sector workers in the Contributory Pension Scheme.
Among many other brilliant innovations she has introduced is the mortgage scheme for retirement savings account holders, which enables RSA holders to use the balance of their RSA savings for the purpose of of mortgage.
The DG’s visible reformatory drives led to the approval by former President the sum of N159.466 billion for the payment of outstanding accrued rights and other pension liabilities of the government’s retirees. That is an open expression of confidence in the leadership of PenCom under Mrs. Dahir-Umar.
It is also laughable that these same accusers have made it their stock-in-trade to attempt to curry favour from any administration that comes on board by fabricating avalanche of unsubstantiated falsehoods against heads of institutions and parastatals. They did same under former President Muhammadu Buhari and failed.
While we pass a vote of confidence on the Director General of PenCom, we appeal to all stakeholders to ignore the unfounded allegations against her and continue to offer support as she is poised to give all Nigerians a life worth living post-retirement.
We call on President Bola Tinubu to sustain the federal government’s support towards the total overhaul of the country’s pension sector for a collective success in the interest of our senior citizens and all other members of our society.