PETROLEUM and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has called on the Federal Government to halt planned by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to draw about N400 billion from the accumulated pension fund to fund power sector project.

President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Babatunde Ogun, while addressing members at their National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, said Mallam Sanusi must be stopped from the risky diversion of workers pension funds under the excuse of investment in the power sector.

According to him: “We equally call on the Federal Government and PENCOM to stop the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from the risky diversion of workers pension funds under the excuse of investment in the power sector. It is a general knowledge that investment returns in the Energy Sector for now should wait until the there is convincing and non-politicized stability in the Sector. Workers who are the stakeholders must be engaged on the terms and condition of investing their money.”

It could be recalled that the Association had on September 24, 2010, petitioned Mallam Sanusi, rejecting his planned diversion of the said fund into power and vowed to frustrate the moves.

In the petition by its General Secretary, Comrade Bayo Olowoshile, said: “Our Association strongly believes that PENCOM should be allowed to continue to take full responsibility of sustaining transparency and instilling confidence in the Pension Fund and the investment portfolios which is ensuring safe and guaranteed returns and security of the Fund.

The CBN Governor should be prevented from any financing plan that will lead to regrettable but belated decision with workers’ hard toiled money. Pension Fund should never again be pushed to mere book entry in our Retirement Savings Accounts under whatever guise.

Consequently, we declare that taking such a huge sum of money (N400 billion) into a sector that require long term gestation and moratorium on investment will amount to another risk of mop up and substantial drain of Pension Fund.”

“Releasing such huge funds into foggy Energy Sector is not acceptable to PENGASSAN and we believe we are speaking for the labour movement. Investment of sensitive fund like Pension as a risk that requires cautious appraisal and it indeed demands for careful spread on short, medium and long term portfolios as provided by the Act.

We are strongly opposed to the CBN planned withdrawal from the Fund as it will again strangulate the discharge of Pension benefits and claims to beneficiaries as and when due. Government knows where to source if it is actually desirous of making the power sector work, instead of deepening its hand into the hard earned Pension Funds. What business does CBN have in running power projects and stations and to get dragged out of policy monitoring and regulatory role confines?”

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