18 December 2012

Nigeria: The Missing N195 Billion Pension Fund


In an unusual show of his power, the Senate President David Mark signed the arrest warrant of the Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina. By this order, the Police were mandated to arrest and produce the PRTT chairman before the lawmakers. Maina has refused to honour invitation by the joint Senate Committee probing the management of pension funds in the last five years.

The Senate had on Tuesday said that Maina failed to account for N195 billion pension funds.Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Service, Establishment, Local and State Governments, Senator Kabiru Gaya, who gave a breakdown of the missing pension funds, said that in the Head of Service Office, a total of N139, 056, 523, 955. 20 was released, N100, 641, 106,957. 33 paid to pensioners with a balance of N39, 783, 682, 993. 00 unaccounted for.

The military and para-military forces fared worse. In the Police Service pension office, he stated that N131.5 billion was released in five years but only N58.3 billion was paid to pensioners while the sum of N44. 2 billion is yet to be accounted for.In Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pension Office, he said that a total of N85, 249, 222, 900. 16 was released, N27, 452, 200, 993.72 billion paid to pensioners leaving a balance of N27, 797, 822, 127. 00 unaccounted for.In Military Pension Board, he said that N317, 609, 082, 566. 05 billion was released, N294, 076, 743, 532. 87 billion paid to pensioners with a balance of N23, 532, 339, 034. 00 billion unaccounted for.In the Department of State Service Pension Office, Gaya disclosed that N34, 698, 149, 304. 68 billion was released, N9, 413, 090, 416. 00 paid to pensioners with a balance of N26, 121, 394, 662. 63 unaccounted for.

We consider Maina's refusal to honour the National Assembly's call to render an account of his stewardship as morally and constitutionally reprehensible. It is also very irresponsible for a public officer to shun an institution of government like the National Assembly. We support any move by the National Assembly to hold him to account for a whopping sum of N195bn under his watch. We are disturbed by the treatment of our senior citizens as mere pawns in a chess game by people who should feel for them at the twilight of their lives and give them their entitlement to enjoy the old age and transit gracefully.

A situation where helmsmen chose to divert funds meant to cater for the old speaks volume about our respect for the dignity of our past heroes who laboured to keep the country united and spent time working for the upliftment of the masses. Police and other security forces should fish out fugitive Maina. His failure to respectfully appear before the joint committee is an abdication of constitutional responsibility and he should face constitutional consequences. To treat him with a kid glove is to further confirm that the present administration does not take war against corruption as a major policy plank, and this cannot be.

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