If all is done by the book, the acting Director-general of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), Aisha Dahir-Umar should not be enjoying the recent lockdown in the comfort of her home but behind high steel walls for allegedly diverting billions from the coffers of pensioners, a flagrant violation of procurement processes and gross abuse of her office among many other offences this online news medium learned.
Investigations revealed that recent findings by the joint Senate and House of Representatives committee on pensions uncovered huge financial recklessness as the commission headed by Aisha Dahir-Umar fraudulently spent N9 billion on salaries of only 387 staff, with another 12.3 billion garnered from the internally generated revenue of the commission blown away without approval from the National Assembly as required by law.
Going by the figures, it was deduced that each staff of the commission smiled home with N2 million as monthly pay by the ludicrously generous Dahir-Umar while delays and non-payment of entitlements to pensioners reigned high in the commission.
Arguably, ignorant of the contents of section 21 of the fiscal responsibility act, 2007 and section 80 (4) of the 1999 constitution as amended, Dahir-Umar claimed that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation approved the proposal for the utilization of money generated by the commission.
The lawmakers in expressing their displeasure over the running of the affairs of the commission disclosed that they couldn’t phantom why thousands of retirees especially primary school teachers in many states of the federation who retired between 2014 to 2018 do not have access to their contributions from the Retirement Benefit even with the number under the Contributory Pension Scheme as at 30th September 2019 standing at 298,614 while the pension industry membership increased to about 8.85 million people.
Further diggings revealed that Dahir-Umar was illegally appointed in acting capacity as the commission’s Director-General as her continued stay which has lasted for more than four years has no backing by neither the PENCOM nor any known law with the Federal Government turning a blind eye after it refused to constitute a board for the commission in direct contravention of section 19 of the Pencom Reform Act, 2014.
The lockdown due to the COVID-19, however, seems to be the only saving grace preventing Aisha Dahir-Umar from proceeding on an unavoidable vacation behind bars as the rejection of the commission’s 2020 budget over anomalies by the lawmakers was a clear green light needed by anti-graft agencies to swing into action and bring the acting Director-General to book.