By Simon Ebegbulem
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, yesterday clarified his position on the pension fund, saying he never accused the National Pension Commission, PenCom, of diverting N3.5 trillion pension fund because it had nothing to do directly with pension money.
He said, rather, his position was about how pension funds operators invested hard-earned workers’ money in Federal Government of Nigeria, FGN, Bonds and Treasury Bills, which in turn was mismanaged through funding consumption.
In a statement personally signed by him, Oshiomhole said: “Recently, a section of the news media attributed comments to me regarding the way in which pension funds, to the tune of N3.5 trillion, were drawn down to support recurrent expenditure and not infrastructure development. In the said reports, the impression created was that I had accused the PenCom of colluding with the Federal Ministry of Finance to divert the said amount. Considering the manner in which this serious economic issue that borders on the future of the Nigerian economy and the welfare of the Nigerian workers who make contributions to the pension funds is being misrepresented, and trivialized in the media, I wish to make some clarifications and set the record straight.
“As someone involved from the outset in the crafting of the PenCom Act, I am very much aware that under the law, PenCom is a regulator of the financial institutions and operators that deal directly with the management of the pension funds and pension assets, namely: the Pension Funds Administrators, PFAs, and the Pension Funds Custodians, PFCs. I could not have said therefore that PenCom diverted pension money because it has nothing to do directly with pension money in the first place. Indeed, I recall that when the pension reforms, which led to the creation of PenCom were being formulated, the selling point of the Contributory Pension Scheme, was that pension funds should be source of cheap and long-term funds that would be used to support programmes and investments that will enhance workers welfare such as workers’ housing and the creation of a robust mortgage system.”