…Accuse Pencom of Financial Crimes, With Statistical Evidence
The public hearing held by the House of Representatives Committee on Pensions on 22/02/2022 was aimed at addressing a recurrent decimal of agitation involving NPF retirees under the CPS. For inexplicable reasons, except for destructive speculations by non- stakeholders benefiting from the scheme, the NPF was not exempted in 2012 when the Army, NIA, DIA and DSS were exited. Of course, the exited security agencies have so far raised no issues of not being at peace with their retirement scheme which falls within the Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS). Therefore, the public hearing was aimed at exploring measures for improving the lives of NPF retirees under the CPS on the one hand, and by extension improving the welfare of senior citizens at large. A choice action that was found better than watching us to wallow in a retirement life that has become solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.
However the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, on this fateful day 22/02/2022 at the public hearing on a bill to exit the NPF from the CPS, took exceptions and asserted baselessly without concrete statistical proofs that the NPF has no reason to exit the CPS. According to Aisha Dahir-Umar, who of course sounded provocative, the FG has so far made the CPS sustainable for its workers, and “successfully introduced transparency and efficiency through the CPS.”
Having failed to get the support of majority stakeholders at the public hearing, Aisha Dahir-Umar resorted to spending NPF retirees hard earned savings to enlist the services of propaganda agents in the likes of Oguche Aguda, CEO PenOp; Franka Ochigbo, MyNigeria blog, Op-Ed Contributor in Nairametrics, PenComsguru.com; Centre for Pensions Rights Advocacy (CPRA); a self styled research analyst, Demiola Oju, another self styled investment analyst, Ayo Bamidele and minority stakeholders to present a ridiculous macro-economics perspective picture of the exit that is not consistent with the fundamental aim of the exit of the NPF from the obnoxious scheme. Their perspective, as already widely circulated in the social and print media can rightly be dismissed as junk and at variance with the current economic realities on ground.
(i) Macroeconomics is simply the branch of economics that studies the economy as a whole. It focuses on three things: national output, unemployment, and inflation. Governments can use macroeconomics policy, including monetary and fiscal policies (and not retirement benefits or pension funds) to stabilize the economy (http://www.investopedia.com). Other variables of macroeconomics include savings and investments while the key pillars of macroeconomics are fiscal policy, monetary policy and exchange rate (https://www.sciencedirect.com and https://www.aph.gov.au). In all these explanations, there is no mention of pensioners’ hard earned pension funds for savings and investments or for fiscal and monetary policies. Neither is NPF pension funds mentioned as cash call for addressing inflation. So, the kind of socio-economic quagmire confronting NPF retirees under the CPS can only be described as Pencom’s inhumanity to the NPF retirees in question. ii) Fiscal policy, comprises measures employed by governments to stabilise the economy, specifically by manipulating the levels and allocations of taxes and government expenditures. Fiscal measures are frequently used in tandem with monetary policy to achieve certain goals (http:// www.britannica.com). In essence, fiscal policy is associated with the use of taxation, borrowing, not from pension funds but from renowned and world class financial institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), China Exxim Bank, etc, while public expenditure is made to influence the level of economic activities (http://www.unn.edu.ng). Fiscal policy is managed by the Ministry of Finance of an economy. iii) On the other hand, monetary policy refers to the use of monetary instruments under the control of the Central Bank of an economy to regulate magnitudes such as interest rates, money supply and availability of credit with a view to achieving the ultimate objectives of economic policy (http://www.rbi.org.in). The goals of monetary policy are to promote maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates. By implementing effective monetary policy, government can maintain stable prices, thereby supporting conditions for long-term economic growth and maximum employment (http://www.federalreserveeducation.org). Thus, our retirement benefits cannot necessarily and sufficiently qualify as “the supporting conditions for long term economic growth and maximum employment.”
- iv) So, in this economics sense, the pension funds of NPF retirees under the CPS are being subjected to reckless abuse by Aisha Dahir-Umar under the guise of fraudulent macroeconomics postulations by her well paid propaganda agents who are now beneficiaries of money they never worked for.
The emblem of the Nigerian Police Force
THE ISSUES OF TRANSPARENCY & EFFICIENCY: DG PENCOM, AISHA DAHIR-UMAR: Part of the bogus claims made by the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar is that under her watch, transparency and efficiency have become the twin pillars of the obnoxious CPS. But to what extent? Instances of lack of transparency and efficiency abound extensively in the scheme:
Pencom, as a regulator of pension funds, has majorly succeeded in deregulating pension funds through fraudulent practices. In April 2020, the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar was a guest at the National Assembly (NASS) before the joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Pensions for an alleged high level of financial recklessness and multi billion naira fraud involving N9bn on salaries of only 386 staff of Pencom and another N12.3bn of the internally generated revenue of the Commission. The committee also noted that by the Pencom DG’s summation, the N9bn salaries were estimated at an average of N2million monthly per staff. Could the N2m monthly salary per Pencom staff be a prescription of the National Income, Salaries and Wages Commission? We pause for an answer. We can only guess how much the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar pays herself as monthly salary from our pension funds. (The Source Magazine, April 21, 2020).
Similarly, in March 2014, the ICPC led by its boss, Ekpo Nta arrested a junior Pencom staff (name withheld by publisher), who operated 50 different bank accounts using different names through a diary containing all the necessary information. This incident revealed that serious cases of pension fraud running into billions of naira are perpetrated by both junior and senior officials of the Pension Commission. Nothing more was heard about this colossal fraud of undisclosed amount involving our pension funds (Daily Trust, March 05, 2014).
The finding of the Senate and House of Representatives Committee Chairs on Pensions, Sen. Ibrahim Shekarau and Hon. Ibrahim Rurum on Aisha Dahir-Umar’s fraud of N9bn and N12.3 bn respectively, was that it was without the approval of the National Assembly (NASS). The claim by the DG Pencom, that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) approved the proposal on the utilisation of the revenue accrued to the Commission was found to be baseless, and ran contrary to Sec. 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, and Sec. 80 (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) (The Source Magazine, April 21, 2020). Therefore, it was an act of gross impunity by Aisha Dahir-Umar to indulge in reckless and fraudulent use of pension funds. It is not known why the ICPC reneged on its initial indication to investigate and prosecute Aisha Dahir-Umar and the Pencom junior staff arrested for criminally operating 50 different bank accounts.
It is worth mentioning that in a recent Punch newspaper headlines of Friday, 28/01/2022, it has the revealing sensational issue that the Supreme Court will decide on an alleged N32.8bn embezzlement by a pension director on April 22, 2022. The EFCC has investigated alleged pension fraud cases of N157bn. It includes a special case of over N19.5bn and a case of N5bn traced to a director, name withheld (The Nation Newspaper, October 06, 2021). The findings of this investigation confirmed that “most people working in pensions office are very, very rich” by fraudulent means.
Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, psc (+), NPM, fdc.
A case of 554 pensioners whose entitlements were going into one person’s account has also been uncovered by the EFCC, while 70% of the money meant to pay pensioners went into private pockets (The Nation Newspaper, October 06, 2021). The EFCC also ran into a mind-boggling range of fraudulent practices, especially in respect of POLICE PENSION OFFICE and the Pension Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation of various staggering undisclosed amounts (The Nation Newspaper, October 06, 2021). Data mined from Pencom’s website by Opera News indicates that the PFAs have invested in Federal Government (FG) bonds worth N7.34trn, N676.91bn in FG Treasury Bills, N117.82bn in State Government Securities as at February, 2021.
Also, N870.30bn has been invested in corporate debt securities, N1.62trn in local money market securities and N158.96bn in mutual funds during the same period (February, 2021). Further checks indicated that the value of pension assets contributed by registered 9.72 million contributors in their respective Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs) had surpassed N12.3trn as at January 30,2021, The question is- to what extent have these investments mentioned in sub paras (vii),(viii), and(ix), impacted on the lives of NPF retirees under the CPS as the scheme does not factor in the 300% of an officer’s last gross annual salary as gratuity, periodic salary increase, 80% as monthly pension of an officer’s terminal salary, consequential adjustment and a host of other monetary privileges as obtained in the Defined Benefits Scheme(DBS)? (Opera News, October 18, 2021).
Is it not questionable to see a system claiming to be transparent and efficient and doing business with stakeholders funds enmeshed in intentional failure to put smiles on the faces of the owners of the money, but chooses to indulge in massive fraudulent practices in the most reckless manner? What kind of a system is Pencom, under the watch of Aisha Dahir-Umar that has not given the minutes thought to the meagre monthly take home of an NPF stakeholder in the 18 years of the obnoxious scheme’s existence?
In a media report in January 2019, the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, informed Nigerians that the FG borrowed N6.16trn (72.5%) from the N8.499trn pension funds, leaving a balance of only N 2.339trn for the payment of monthly pensions to retirees under the CPS. The same report had it that the N6.16trn was invested in FGN Securities while PFAs invested N584.321bn in domestic ordinary shares. Similarly, N60.529bn of the fund was invested in foreign shares. There was no mention of refund of the borrowed funds, accumulated interests or gains and modalities for incremental disbursement to NPF retirees under the CPS (PUNCH, January 16, 2019). To Aisha Dahir-Umar, NPF retirees under the CPS can continue to live and die untimely in misery, poverty for all she cares. That our respective families can go into extinction while she flourishes with our funds with her family, cronies and cohorts. Can any sane mind paint a picture of a transparent and efficient way of managing our pension funds from this manner of impunity associated with it?
The Abdulrasheed Maina N24bn fraud of police pension funds under the Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS) is a sad reminder of an institutionalised fraudulent practice that snowballed into the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS). (Opera News, January, 2020). Similarly, the son of the ex-Pension Reform boss, Faisal Maina, by extension of the father’s kleptomania, bagged 14years jail term for money laundering of N58m into his UBA account by his father as a gift (Vanguard, October 08,2021) Can anyone tie these attitudinal financial recklessness and fraud to transparency and efficiency as claimed by Aisha Dahir-Umar?.
In a recent survey covering Lagos (SW), Port Harcourt(SS); Owerri (SE), Kaduna(NW), Bauchi (NE) and FCT(Abuja) of respondents totaling 5,320, it was found that 63% were, and are still discontented with the scheme’s lack of transparency and efficiency. Of the total, 66.55% were women while 32.34% were men (THE WILL Newspaper, July 25,2021). The Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had cause to advise President Muhammadu Buhari in an open letter dated December 05, 2020 to instruct the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar and the Board of Pencom to stop the 36 state governors from borrowing and/or withdrawing N17trillion from the pension funds purportedly for “infrastructural development.” But it is not known whether or not the DG Pencom heeded the advice as series of breaches already surround her pattern of financial management and accountability (Vanguard, December 06, 2020).
The N17trn alarm raised by SERAP should be viewed with a pinch of the salt. The N17trn contradicts the N12.3trn total assets claimed by the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar. It could be possible that the total assets of Pencom exceed the N12.3trn she claims but limits the declaration to 12.3trn. With a contradictory situation of this nature, how can one believe Pencom, under the watch of Aisha Dahir-Umar to be transparent or efficient in managing pension funds? Never.
xviii). Pencom, under the watch of AishaDahir-Umar, failed in its regulatory functions by glossing over a brazen bribery activity shamelessly displayed by the MD, NPF Pensions Ltd, Hamza Sule Wuro Bokki and his team of pension managers in June 2021 in Lagos while on a marketing campaign of calumny to induce NPF retirees under the CPS to remain with the killer scheme. The marketing campaign of calumny was propelled by the early wrong signals they got from the investigative hearing sessions by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Pensions on 02/06/2021 and 08/06/2021 respectively. As it is characteristically, exploitative of all PFAs and Annuity Companies, the NPF Pensions Ltd that chose to exploit NPF pensioners in the CPS rather than paying desirable pension, openly expended a lot of stolen money from retirees pension funds with which each NPF retiree, added to an alleged hired crowd was induced with ten thousand (N10,000.00) naira and a souvenir T-shirt criminally bought with the hard earned retirement benefits of retirees.
This act of BRIBERY indulged in by Hamza Sule Wuro Bokki is criminal and stinks of ABSOLUTE CORRUPTION in the NPF Pensions Ltd. If the MD of a PFA can indulge in BRIBERY in the public space as done by Hamza Sule Wuro Bokki without being called to order by Pencom under the watch of Aisha Dahir-Umar, it simply re-echoes the story of LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND EFFICIENCY in the National Pension Commission (PENCOM).
- UNNECESSARY HUES AND CRIES: It is amazing that for the several years that NPF retirees under the CPS have been tied to economic slavery and exploitation by Pencom, the fire brigade and propaganda economists that are now singing fetish and diabolical songs for Aisha Dahir-Umar and Pencom under her watch were no where to be heard. Only when, the IGP through his DIG A, Sanusi Lemu stamped his feet strongly on the ground at the public hearing of 22/02/2022 to say that enough is enough, that it is time for both retired and serving officers of the NPF to exit the obnoxious scheme, the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar engaged her inconsequential economic theorists, analysts and propagandists alike with our hard earned pension funds to write harmfully in objection to our exit. Gladly, they have made no remarkable impact and will never make any.
In an attempt to score cheap recognition, they have come up with unsubstantiated financial cost of our exit put at N1.8trn backed by baseless, fabled and unreliable macroeconomics perspectives currently trending in the social and print media. If N1.8trn is deducted from N12.3trn, Pencom still retains N10.5trn for the larger stakeholders (not the NPF) upon our exit. There is therefore no harm caused, rather it is for the good of NPF retirees under the CPS. How the government will need to borrow N6.2trn to execute critical infrastructure projects as claimed by propagandist Ikechukwu Amaechi (The Sunnews online 10/03/2022), is squarely or purely a measure arising from government’s fiscal and monetary policies and not related in any way to the pension benefits of officers who have given their best in serving the country for 35 unblemished years respectively and desperately need their money for sustenance in retirement.
It is not surprising for propaganda agents in the likes of Oguche Aguda, CEO PenOp; Franca Ochigbo, MyNigeria blog; Op-Ed Contributor in Nairametrics; Centre for Pensions Rights Adovocacy (CPRA); Demiola Oju, Ayo Bamidele and a host of unnamed others to do negative publications for their paymaster, Aisha Dahir-Umar to attract unavailable attention. Our estimation is not far from being the true position that they are earning their living from our pension funds on a monthly basis. Amounting to enjoying free money from the sweat of NPF retirees under the CPS. In case the reverse is the case, then they are hereby challenged to tell Nigerians about their means of livelihood.
It is ironical that for all the years we have been subjected to denials, deprivations and exploitative economic misery, none of these advocates of doom ever bothered about how NPF retirees under the CPS are coping with market trends where both the rich and the poor buy from. None of these doom writers ever made any remark on how to better our lot in retirement. They claim that there are alternatives to outright exemption of NPF from the CPS whereas the only clear alternative has remained the high frequency of deaths recorded daily by retirees under the CPS.
For instance, what is the modality or possibility of paying a police officer who has retired for 18 years or more, estimating from the retrospectively enacted PRA 2004, a competitive salary to ensure a satisfactory retirement savings balance and a higher disposable income to allow an officer save more reasonable amount to ultimately enhance his RSA? So grossly and logically incomprehensible. It sounds utopia but we cannot be deceived to remain in the obnoxious scheme. The most provocatively presumed alternative to our exit posited by these armchair analysts is that of avoiding a return to the 2004 pre-pension reform scenario characterised by endless waiting for a retirement cheque and driven by over N2trn of pension liabilities.
The assertion in sub para (vi) was made out of myopism and lack of in-depth research. Sylva MA (2022) has put the records straight in his postulation as follows: “The liability of N2trn that the FG incurred under the DBS was occasioned by the poor banking system that led to the liquidation in the banking industry before the recapitalization of 23 viable banks. It did not mean that the government had no money to pay. Those assigned to do so steal the money just like Maina did or deposited it into one of those distressed banks as fixed deposits. That was the cause of salary and pension delay, because they would pay only at maturity.”
QUESTION: Is there any difference between what happened then and what is happening now under the CPS? Officers wait for as long as 2, 3 years or more before being paid an arbitrary token. viii). Nigeria has its fiscal and monetary policies which help to determine the growth of her economy. Interestingly, the Nigerian economy is a growing one and cannot be baselessly compared with advanced economies. Thus, retirement accounts under the CPS cannot form the basis of national wealth creation while the beneficiaries of such legitimate entitlements are asked to go starving to death.
ix). The likes of Damiola Oju, Ayo Bamidele, Oguche Aguda, Franca Ochigbo, CPRA and a host of others earning their living from police officers’ hard earned pension funds, are reminded to tap into the fiscal and monetary policies of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and Prof. Chukwuma Soludo respectively to find out how they made the Nigerian economy the strongest in Africa and stop presenting untenable, deceitful and rogue macroeconomics perspectives to swindle the hard earned benefits of NPF retirees under the CPS and the yet to retire serving members of the NPF. The Nigerian economy was made strong not from the benefits of NPF retirees but from the products of the intellectual endowments of their respective disciplines.
- x) The NPF has never been a member of the trade union besides being the lead, the most critical and first respondent agency in the security architecture in the country as enshrined in Sec.4 of the Police Act 2020. As a constitutionally empowered arms carrying lead internal security agency, it is inconceivable and reprehensible for the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to enlist in the army of hues and cries to attempt to truncate our exit from the CPS. Enough is enough and there is no going back.
xi). As a matter of fact, the NLC has no business meddling in matters concerning affairs of the police. This position is buttressed as follows. On various dates covering 24/08/2018 and 30/10/2018, our grievances on the socio-economic injustices meted on us by the CPS under the regulatory agency of PenCom under the watch of Aisha Dahir-Umar were presented through written correspondences conveyed by courier to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari for his intervention.
A third correspondence was thereafter sent to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim, reference NPF/CPS/CRS/04 dated 30/10/2019 on the same subject matter. In our first two correspondences dated 24/08/2018 and 30/10/2018 respectively, the NLC President was duly notified with authentic copies.
xii. In what appeared to be presidential concern in the course of time, the Ministry of Labour and Productivity was prompted to invite representatives of NPF retirees under the CPS for a meeting at the instance of the Presidency over our plight. At the total of four interactive secessions held were representatives of NPF retirees under the CPS, SP. Chris Effiong, DSP. Barr. Ofem Obeteng and seven (7) others, three (3) Directors from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, three (3) representatives from the National Union of Pensioners (NUP), Aisha Dahir-Umar for PenCom while NPF Pensions Ltd. was represented by some staff and a serving police officer, SP. Utazi who also doubles as its secretary and a self styled opposition party to the plight of NPF retirees under the CPS.
The Police Pension Office was represented by CP Ibrahim Tarfa, now late, for the IGP. The Federal Mortgage Bank was represented on the fourth and last interactive session. Let it be known that the NLC was not represented in all the four interactive sessions, not minding that it had full knowledge about our plight through our correspondences.
xiii. Therefore, the conspicuous non-representation of the NLC is a clear indication that it has never been a partner in progress and has no business on matters concerning the retirement benefits of NPF retirees under the CPS. However, the conspicuous representation of the NLC at investigative and public hearing sessions on matters related to retirement benefits of NPF retirees under the CPS can, not only be ascribed to parochial impression about what is legitimately our right, but also borne out of prejudice and police apathy with the manifest aim of aiding and abetting the DG. PenCom, Aisha Dahir-Umar to truncate our exit from the obnoxious CPS for personal gains. Nevertheless, the salient position of the Ministry of Labour and Productivity during our interactive sessions was that our plight falls within the purview of the National Assembly (NASS) to amend the relevant section of the PRA 2014 to accommodate the NPF. And that is where we are now. Thus, NLC’s meddling in police affairs amounts to acting ultra vires.
xiv) Understandably, and it is common knowledge too, that the NLC is represented on the Board of Pencom where there is the likelihood of paying the NLC representative some fat financial rewards for being on the Board. Such fat financial rewards likely to be disbursed to such a representative on the Board are earned from no where but NPF retirees’ pension funds. Therefore, it is not surprising that any Board of Pencom representative from the NLC can afford to impinge on the fundamental socio-economic rights of NPF retirees under the CPS by presenting a position in disfavour of the retirees in question in protection of such financial rewards. This is done in furtherance of Pencom’s capitalist ideology described as “OCCUPATIONAL SOCIO-ECONOMIC NEO-COLONIALISM” of NPF retirees under the CPS.
This is a situation in which the retirement benefits and all other end of service financial rewards, gratuity inclusive, of NPF retirees under the CPS have been hijacked by Pencom, backed by an Act that is not all inclusive, PRA 2014, and exploited by new age capitalists represented by PFAs and Annuity Companies in which Pencom is complicit. They expend pension funds as they like and arbitrarily pay us any amount as it pleases them as pension to inhumanly determine our life expectancy. While Pencom under the watch of Aisha Dahir-Umar, their affiliate PFAs and Annuity Companies and cohorts are living richly well on our retirement benefits, NPF retirees under the CPS keep recording very high frequency of untimely deaths on a daily basis. We are ready to address this socio-economic enslavement and injustice to a logical conclusion, whether NLC likes it or not.
EVIDENCE OF DOUBTFUL INVESTMENT OF PENSION ASSETS:
A publication in the Daily Independent Newspaper of October 05, 2021 had a headline from the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, screaming that “Exiting Police may roll back scheme’s N 13trn Assets under Management (AuM) gains.”
As a matter of fact, the DG Pencom is frugal with the truth on the CPS. Drawing from Lenin’s postulations on Imperialism, it has become apparent that Pencom and its affiliate PFAs and Annuity Companies are finding it difficult to maintain their levels of profit in their capital investments owing to some abuses and financial recklessness as reported in paragraph 5 herein and certain unreported unprofitable transactions. They have thus resolved through every means of pernicious propaganda to hold on to NPF retirees under the CPS to address their short falls. It will amount to an irony of sociological history for Aisha Dahir-Umar to nurse the capitalist idea of making NPF retirees under the CPS a replica of the PROLETARIAT of the Marxian postulations, or a labour force, or raw materials for income generation and profit making for capitalist moguls represented by PFAs and Annuity Companies in which Pencom is complicit under the guise of boosting the economy of Nigeria.
The NPF is neither a profit making organisation nor a revenue collecting agency of some kind for the government. Rather, its personnel earn their salaries and end of service benefits from the broad economic base of Nigeria. Therefore, it questions every sense of logic for Aisha Dahir-Umar to subjugate a section of NPF retirees to the exploitative whims and caprices of the CPS.
Back to sub paras (i) and (ii) herein, it is not true that exiting the police from the CPS will affect the scheme in anyway. The claim is not only baseless, unfounded but also speculative. Here is the true statistically based position. Data gotten from Pencom’s website by Opera News (October 18, 2021) indicates that accumulated pension assets of N13trn represents the gains made by CPS contributors numbering 9.72 million. This figure includes NPF retirees under the CPS estimated at 44,604 (Police Records, January 2022). The entire NPF manpower currently in service is given as 304,963 (IPPIS Data Base, January 2022). If this figure, 304,963 is added to 44,604, the summation is 349,567, representing the entire personnel of the force under the CPS which is far less than half a million. Furthermore, deducting the entire NPF personnel under the CPS, representing 349,567 from 9.72 million (9,720,000), Pencom still retains 9.37 million (9,370,433) contributors under the CPS.
This “roll back“ idea is further rendered untenable by the findings of Fumilayo Sadiku. Fumilayo Sadiku (2022) has expressly posited that 60% of the total pension assets of the N13trn belongs to employees of the Private Sector while the Public Sector employees which includes NPF retirees under the CPS take the balance of 40% (Fumilayo S; Business Day, March 02,2022). With this unquestionable statistical proof, the onus lies on Aisha Dahir-Umar, Ikechukwu Amaechi and their other propaganda agents to convince the NASS and Nigerians at large that exiting the police may roll back the obnoxious scheme in any way. It is logically suggestive therefore that the size of NPF retirees under the CPS is the smallest component out of all the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) besides the NPF, state and federal put together. This is the only intellectual medium through which the much touted “roll back” idea can be understood and not by mere literary and misleading narratives. It is clear now that Aisha Dahir-Umar and her army of propaganda agents raised false alarm as it is known now that the exit of the police will absolutely not roll back the scheme in any minutest way. It will rather improve the lives of NPF retirees in general for the benefit of Nigeria’s security architecture.
THE FABLED AND DECEITFUL INVESTMENT OF N13TRN PENSION ASSETS IN VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY:
We make bold to say that the fabled and deceitful claim of “accumulated pension assets of N13trn now claimed to be N13.6trn as at January, 2022 but the focus will be on N13trn invested in various aspect of the Nigerian economy “(Nairametrics, January 18, 2022) made by the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar amounts to tissues of lies form the pit of hell. It also amounts to a huge deceit to talk about investment of stakeholders money without mentioning the resultant profits or gains from such investments which should ordinarily be used to elevate the meager pensions of NPF retirees under the CPS. We also do not understand the type of financial management/accounting, macro or micro economics perspective the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar presented to Nigerians and the world at large.
The Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Pensions, Hon. Bamidele Salam, spoke our minds at the public hearing on 22/02/2022 when he put a direct but serious question to Aisha Dahir-Umar on her much touted investment concept in various aspects of the Nigerian economy-“To what extent has the investment in the economy touched the lives of these NPF retirees under the CPS?”
Aisha Dahir-Umar was caught moping, speechless, could not and has not been able to give an answer to that question till date. It makes it instructive that it is Aisha Dahir-Umar who has chosen to enforce conscription on NPF retirees under the CPS to absurdly make us a pillar of Nigerian economy without recourse to laid down rules of fiscal and monetary policies, within the framework of true macroeconomics perspectives. It is fraudulent for Aisha Dahir-Umar to assert that the CPS “has become the cornerstone of Nigeria’s economy by providing the needed investible funds for the country’s infrastructural development.” What an open robbery. Our benefitscannot represent investible funds for infrastructural development. It amounts to fraudulent and baseless economic theory propounded by the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar.(Isaiah E. 2022).
Atedo Peterside, a Nigerian and London based renowned banker and investor did not agree less in a stinging letter to the CBN Governor Emefiele, where he turned down an invitation extended to him for a CBN organised Round table on the economy, with theme—“Going for Growth’’ (The Source Magazine, March 11, 2022). According to Atedo Peterside, CON- “Rapid growth is only achieved on the back of significant Investment activity. Going for growth should therefore be a holistic concept that embraces the sum total actions and activities that we need to encourage in order to boost investor confidence, including respect of individual freedoms and the rule of law… Our economy is at a precipice. At an appropriate time, I will send you my thoughts on how to quickly eliminate the policy inconsistencies that threaten the stability of our macroeconomy as CBN continues to defy the odds by simultaneously pursuing a low domestic interest rate regime which clearly cannot coexist with high inflation and naira exchange rate stability in the face of collapsed/collapsing oil prices and an insatiable and uncontrolled appetite for foreign currency loans. This unsustainable policy mix has spooked investors (local and foreign)’’ (Atedo, NAP, CON, in The Source Magazine, March 11, 2022).
This is instructive of how to raise investible funds for infrastructural development. Frequent agitations by NPF retirees under the CPS occasioned by pension fraud in all its entirety, and unsustainable policy mix on the part of those driving the Nigerian economy cannot boost investors’ confidence. iv) In a similar vein, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike posited as fellows: “….the Nigerian’s economy will remain vulnerable and weak if illegal bunkering and artisanal refining of crude oil continue unabated. The oil and gas sector is the main stay of the nation’s economy and Nigerians owe it as a duty to ensure that the country’s economy is salvaged” (Denis Naku, PUNCH: March 12, 2022) v) In the views presented by our own erudite scholars, and as we have always reasoned, there has been no point in time that the Nigerian economy is tied to the terminal benefits of NPF retirees. Aisha Dahir-Umar’s media war to enable her,her cohorts and cronies retain our terminal benefits as if she is administering a personal estate are simply the views of her intellectually ill-equipped and speculative propaganda agents of doom and rogue macroeconomics perspective writers.
- vi) When Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala ran the Nigerian economy as the Coordinating Minister for Finance and the Economy to be the strongest economy in Africa, 2011-2015, NPF retirees’ retirement benefits did not form the premise of the government’s fiscal policy. Retirement benefit is the money already accrued to a retiree to ferry him through all manner of adjustments in all his retirement life. Does the government give with the right hand and take back with the left hand? Since when have the retirement benefits of a few become the pillar of the Nigerian economy? vii) When Prof. Chukwuma Soludo governed the Central Bank, 1999-2003 to stabilise the Nigerian banking system and the naira, retirement benefit did not form the basis for the Nigerian monetary policy. NPF retirees under the CPS are not in any way responsible for any policy inconsistencies threatening the Nigerian macroeconomy, neither are we the cause of high inflation and naira exchange rate instability. So, when will these propaganda economists, rogue macro and micro economists leave NPF retirees under the CPS alone to enjoy the fruit of their labour?
viii) Pension is a function of salary, as claimed by Aisha Dahir-Umar. Yes, but by what instrumentality or magic wand will a retired officer for the past 15, 16, 18 years or more be paid that deceitful enhanced salary to boost up his monthly pension? Do we forbid being paid gratuity and other monetary benefits as paid the Army, NIA, DIA and DSS?. We buy from the same market, and for all the years of Pencom’s existence, none of these rogue propaganda agents of doom has cared to know how we have been coping with the inflationary trends on a static peanut. ix). The “peanut” issue which has remained static over the years translates into poor conditions of service that has been vindicated by the untimely resignation of F/No. 528089 PC. Ugwu Chiemezie on 25/03/2022. He served last at Igbo Eze South Police Station, Ibagwa Aka, Enugu State on a monthly salary of forty-five thousand (N45,000.00) naira only in these harsh inflationary times. He could not come to terms with his earnings as a Lagos warehouse worker at pre-enlistment on five thousand (N5,000.00) naira daily and one hundred and fifty thousand (N150.000.00) naira monthly (https://saharareporters.com 31/03/2022). Should we decide to use Ugwu Chiemezie as a single case study, what can one say has been the impact of Aisha Dahiru-Umar’s much touted investment of N13trn pension assets in various aspects of the Nigerian economy on his wellbeing from the point of enlistment on 01/02/2018 to point of resignation on 25/03/2022? Such is the scenario that is speaking volumes for NPF retirees under the CPS.
x). A similar scenario played out in the 2021 recruitment exercise in Delta State where 50% of the over 800 applicants was reported to have shunned the physical and credentials screening (https://punchng.com/police-recruitment-50-delta-applicants-shun-screening11/02/2022) for reasons presumably not far from irreconcilable poor conditions of service. In yet another development, it was reported that youths of the five states in the South-East geopolitical zone shunned a very crucial opportunity to join the NPF in the 2021/2022 recruitment exercise. The Commissioner representing the South-East geopolitical zone in the Police Service Commission (PSC) opined that the Federal Character Commission (FCC) must ensure fair and balanced representation of Nigerians in government through affirmative action that is currently at its lowest ebb (https://guardian.ng/opinion/underrepresentation-of-southeast-in-police-recruitment/27/01/2022). But it is common knowledge that conditions of service constitute the driving force behind any employment. xi). For the avoidance of doubt, the CPS is not only obnoxious but a killer scheme. If the DBS that is liberal in execution is what will take care of our retirement issues, so be it. Afterall, it is working for the Army, NIA DIA and DSS. Therefore, the NPF, the lead, first respondent and most critical agency in the security architecture of Nigeria deserves nothing but the best.
THE IMMEDIATE REASON FOR AISHA DAHIR-UMAR’S HOSTILE PROPAGANDA AGAINST NPF RETIREES UNDER THE CPS:
- Having been initially jolted by the question put to her as reported in Para 8 (ii) herein, by the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Pensions, Hon. Bamidele Salam and the renewed position of the IGP, through his delegate DIG Sanusi Lemu on the non-negotiable exit of the NPF from the CPS, Aisha Dahir-Umar was further shocked by the no compromise position of all the stakeholders who supported the complete exit of the NPF from the obnoxious CPS. ii. Furthermore, having been rendered prodigal by the abysmal support she got at the public hearing, Aisha Dahir-Umar resorted to a media campaign of calumny against NPF retirees under the CPS, some of who are old enough to be father or mother figures to her. Propaganda agents in the likes of Oguche Aguda, CEO PenOp; Franka Ochigbo, MyNigeria blog; Op-Ed contributor; Nairametrics; PenComsguru.com, Takor Ivor, Centre for Pension Rights Advocacy (CPRA); self-styled research and investment analysts, Demiola Oju, and Ayo Bamidele respectively; Ikechukwu Amaechi, of The Sunnewsonline.com and Leadership; have all made misleading and one sided reports without a balanced reference to stakeholders who supported the total exit of the NPF from the scheme, those against and absentee stakeholders.
SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS AT THE PUBLIC HEARING:
- i) Stakeholders That Supported the NPF Exit: The IGP represented by DIG Sanusi Lemu for the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) Association of Retired Police Officers of Nigeria (ARPON) Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) Trade Union Congress (TUC) Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) Retired Customs Officers Brekete Human Rights Radio Association of Market Women and Men Traders of Nigeria Center For Human Rights Advocacy Nigeria Civil Service Union; National Association of Paramilitary Officers; ACP Uche Mike Chukwuma, rtd. RVS-Interested Party College of Education Academic Staff Union Barr. Amos, Esq.- Interested Party
DSP Barr. Ofem Obeteng for NPF retirees under the CPS.
CP Barr. Akeremale Abayomi and team of Abuja lawyers submitted a paper as interested parties.
ii). Those Against the NPF Exit: Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) Aisha Dahir-Umar for Pencom. Pension Board of Nigeria Nigeria Employment Consultative Association (NECA).
Contributory Pension and Advocacy iii). Absentee Stakeholders at the NPF Exit: Head of Service of the Federation Federal Ministry of Justice Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity Federal Ministry of Finance Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) Central Bank of Nigerian (CBN), Military Pension Board (MPB), Directorate of State Security (DSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). iv). That was the scenario that ignited Aisha Dahir-Umar into engaging her affiliates to propagate a harmful campaign of calumny against retirees under the CPS. Ikechukwu Amaechi (The Sunnewsonline.com 10/03/2022) even lied when he loosely asserted that the federal government “demurred” our exit, “insisting that the institution was so big that it would not be in the interest of the country to let policemen go out of the pension loop.” Ridiculous. An assertion that is not backed by any statistical proof to substantiate the bogus claim except in protection of his fat earnings from the pension funds. It is already statistically proven at paras 7 (iv) and (v) herein that the NPF is the smallest conscripted component of all the public and private institutions under the exploitative hold of Pencom.
v). To put the records straight, the FG did not shy away, and never shied away from exiting the NPF from the CPS as claimed by Ikechukwu Amaechi and Aisha Dahir-Umar (The Sunnewsonline.com/ni 10/03/2022). Rather, it was a conspiracy between the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar and the police hierarchy of ex-IGP Ibrahim Idris and his management team which gave birth to a secret meeting of the trio that perfected a Tripartite Committee Report (TCR) 2017 to calm frayed nerves on our agitation for exit from the CPS. The TCR 2017 was not implemented and was never meant to be implemented. As the agitation attained an aggressive dimension in year 2021 with the resultant investigative and public hearing sessions by the Senate on 02/06/2021, House of Reps on 08/06/2021 respectively, then House of Reps public hearing on 22/02/2022, Aisha Dahir-Umar chose the way of mindless media war to enable her hold on to very economically distressed retired police officers under a Commission which she runs like her private business.
- vi) Let it be known that media propaganda agents of doom, represented by PenOp, Op-Ed Contributor, Nairametrics , PenComsguru.com, Centre for Pension Rights Advocacy (CPRA) and a host of unidentified others, can safely be said to be employees/affiliates of Pencom, earning fat salaries like the 386 staff of Pencom and all manner of allowances from our pension funds of 35 years hard sweat. None of these killer agents, including other self styled research and financial analysts ever presented a balanced reportage on our exit agitation. How can these agents of doom in their insanity prefer us to live and die in misery, rather than living on what is legitimately ours? It begs for at least an answer.
THE QUESTIONABLE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE CONTRIBUTORY PENSION SCHEME (CPS):
As part of her defence at the public hearing on 22/02/2022, Aisha Dahir-Umar claimed without conscience that the CPS is now anchored on the twin pillars of transparency and efficiency, and an element of sustainability. As a follow-up to the lack of transparency and efficiency in the obnoxious scheme reported earlier in para 5 (i)–(xviii), the extent to which the obnoxious scheme can be said to be sustainable has since become questionable. HERE IS WHY:
The NPF retirees under the CPS, like our fore retired colleagues under the Defined Benefits scheme (DBS), enlisted within the legal and structural framework of the DBS. However, the legal justification for excluding us from the privileges of the DBS has not been clearly and convincingly prescribed by the PRA 2014. As the lead, most critical and first respondent in the security architecture of the country, there ought to have been that sustained appeal to natural justice, equity and good conscience applied to the NPF while considering the exit of the Army, NIA, DIA and DSS. Rather, the PRA 2014 has not been administered impartially to the NPF. In this sense, the act is discriminatory and segregator against the NPF, and therefore not sustainable in all essentials.
Furthermore, most victims of the CPS had served in the force for upward 20 to 32 years before the retrospective enactment of the PRA 2004 in 2006 and the reformed PRA 2014. One begins to imagine and wonder whether laws are enacted in retrospect for punitive measures against real or perceived enemies. The pension environment in which we have found ourselves today is nothing short of a punitive measure unleashed on us by the regime of ex-President Obasanjo for whatever passion he had for or against the NPF.
As at the retrospective 2004 conscription into the Act, most victimised officers now in the scheme were pensionable. Therefore, the essence of segregating us from our colleagues enjoying their benefits under the DBS still lacks explanation and conviction. The PRA 2014, Sec.5 (2) of the second schedule skipped us from/denied us of being paid the mandatory 300% of our last gross annual salaries as gratuity. In the same vein, the PRA 2014, Sec.5 (2) of the second schedule expunged us from earning 80% as monthly pension of individual officer’s terminal emolument, which includes an officer’s basic salary, housing and transport allowances.
Similarly, we stand denied the 15% pension increase in 2007 and the 33% pension review subsequently approved in 2014. This is in breach of Sec. 39 (3) PRA 2014 which mandates the Commission to determine the adequacy of pension funds for retirees at the end of every year, and Sec. 173(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) meant for the Commission to advise the Budget Office of the Federation of shortfall, if any. As a result of the abandonment of the deceitful Tripartite Committee Report (TCR) 2017 till date in year 2022, Pencom. PFAs and Annuity Companies have deliberately and intentionally refused to re-compute our monthly pensions given in the HIDDEN RESERVES in the RSAs of NPF retirees under the CPS. The hidden reserves issue was among several observations made as “ill feelings among officers who retired under the CPS but failed to see the light of implementation till date.
As we are not, and still remain inaccessible to periodic reviews of pensions and salaries, it is to the same extent that we have remained alienated from the attendant payment of Consequential Adjustment to pensioners approved by government, in line with the minimum wage approved in April 2018. The payment of 2.5% pension differential has also remained elusive to officers who retired from 2004 to 2018, which is a clear situation of oppressive economic deprivation and exploitation.
For officers who enrolled with Pencom but retired with ranks higher than at enrollment, such terminal ranks were not considered by Pencom in computing our benefits inspite of series of notifications before being arbitrarily paid what they chose to pay. Available proofs exist. The arrears of promotion differentials between the ranks at enrollment and higher terminal ranks at retirement remain embezzled by Pencom till date, while our terminal ranks sadly remain ceremonial. E.B. Aikhomu (Mrs), Head, National Data Bank Department is the culprit behind this criminal anomaly. Given all the facts presented above, the obnoxious Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) is not sustainable.
This research on the misleading pieces of information on the retirement benefits of NPF retirees under the CPS, and the hostile media propaganda agents the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar engaged to foster the frontiers of her corrupt regulatory ineptitude and incompetence has revealed what is not known to most Nigerians. Firstly, there is no nexus between the retirement benefits of NPF retirees and the Nigerian economy. There is more of multibillion naira financial recklessness and fraud involving the DG Pencom Aisha Dahir-Umar to the tune of N9bn and N12.3bn respectively, and a junior Pencom staff arrested for operating 5O different bank accounts stuffed with undisclosed amounts of pension funds. Aisha Dahir-Umar lacks the capacities to prevent fraud and corruption in the Commission but has the capacities to gloss over massive fraudulent practices in the Pension Commission. A lot more financial infractions are copiously provided in this 12 paragraph paper against Aisha Dahir-Umar and Pencom.
Police retirees under the CPS have been vindicated by EFCC investigative discoveries of pension fraud cases of N157bn which include special cases of over N19.5bn and N5bn traced to a pension director, as well as diversion of entitlements of 554 pensioners into one person’s account. The Supreme Court will also decide a case of an alleged N32.8bn embezzlement by a pension director (name withheld) on 22/04/2022. It is now an open secret that fraudulent practices exist in Pencom, Police Pension Office, and the Pension Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation of various staggering undisclosed amounts, calling the much touted elements of transparency, efficiency and sustainability in Pencom to question.
It is now statistically established that the NPF, comprising retired and serving personnel with manpower of 349,567, is the smallest component of all the public and private institutions under the exploitative grip of Pencom. With a strength of far less than half a million, Pencom still retains 9.37million contributors out of its current 9.72million contributors upon the imminent exit of the NPF. According to the findings of Fumilayo Sadiku (2022), it has been expressly noted that 60% of the total Pension assets of the N13trn belongs to employees of the private sector while the public sector employees which includes NPF retirees under the CPS take the balance of 40% (Fumilayo S; Business Day, March 02, 2022).
Let the position of macroeconomics on the NPF be known to all rogue macro and micro economists, doing damaging and deceitful publications for the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, for fees from our hard earned benefits, that all retired and serving NPF personnel, are rightly the products of the non-marketed sector, and in case of production by government, the NPF accounts for a substantial bulk of non-marketed production, except for security of lives and property in furtherance of the security development of the country(LYPSEY, RG; Macroeconomic Issues, Policies and Controversies, 1992).
The emoluments or salaries and end of service benefits of NPF personnel as the case may be, come mainly from taxes levied on firms, households, oil and gas (the mainstay of the economy), gains from direct foreign investments (DFI) in Nigeria, international trade between Nigeria and foreign business partners, and a host of other interfaces propelled by the country’s fiscal and monetary policies. Therefore, as consummate citizens of the Nigerian economy, the salaries and terminal benefits of NPF retirees put together do not qualify as macro or micro economics factors to serve as a source of revenue generation for the government through Pencoms slavish, exploitative and murderous capitalist ideology that has seen our colleagues dying on a daily basis.
It is unintellectual, statistically baseless, unfounded and a fundamental breach of the rule of law for the DG Pencom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, to tie the legitimate retirement entitlements of NPF retirees under the CPS to the economic growth of Nigeria. Except she can beat her chest to say that the Pension law is principally targeted at the NPF personnel. NPF retirees under the CPS are not the cause of any macroeconomic inconsistencies in the economy, and not also responsible for the collapse or perceived rise in the oil and gas prices. Police retirees under the CPS do not constitute the driving force behind government’s appetite for foreign loans. It is squarely or purely the government’s fiscal policy measure unrelated to the retirement benefits of NPF retirees under the CPS. NPF retirees cannot also be held responsible for the lack of investors confidence in the Nigerian economy. Investors confidence in any country’s economy is propelled by measures delivered from her fiscal and monetary policies.
Drawing from all the salient facts presented herein to justify the complete exit of the NPF from the obnoxious Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), it has become safe to say that now is the time. The Army, NIA, DIA and DSS that seem to earn more financially were exited without much ado. The NPF which is the lead and most critical security agency in the country’s security architecture records more fatalities whether in peace or trouble times than the aforementioned security agencies. Therefore, whatever considerations that were applied to their exit should also be applied to the exit of the NPF. Drawing again from all the salient facts presented in this paper, the NPF has cogent reasons and the inalienable right to exit the obnoxious Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
Compiled by ACP Bright Kakada, Rtd. JP, Vice Chairman, DTS Chapter