There are few examples of government-guided sectors that have drawn positive marks as the country’s pension industry. In an environment where government affairs are run with laxity and corruption, it is gladdening that the involvement of a new pension regime in 2004 turned around an industry that was before then steeped in sleaze and maladministration.
The giant strides of the Pension Act, 2004 were further strengthened by the Pension Reforms Act, PRA, 2014. The successes of the sector have been guided by the industry regulator, the National Pension Commission, PENCOM. However, the seeming serenity in PENCOM has been punctuated by recent government interventions. The government had in April 2017 removed the PENCOM
management led by Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu midway into its five-year tenure.
Mrs. Anohu-Amazu was initially replaced by Alhaji Aliyu Dikko. That appointment was subsequently stepped down, and Mr. Funso Doherty appointed. Both appointments were flayed by stakeholders for contravening Section 21 (2) of the PRA which stipulates: “In the event of a vacancy, the President shall appoint a replacement from the geopolitical zone of the immediate past member that vacated office to complete the remaining tenure.” Based on the provisions of the PRA 2014, neither Dikko from the North-west nor Doherty from the South-west fits into a suitable replacement for Anohu-Amazu who is from the South-east.
Some have, however, argued that this provision of the PRA Act may not be strictly followed when the whole board, as in this case, has been replaced. We, however, caution that bringing that argument to bear is dangerous, self-serving and inequitable in a federation that constitutionally projects the federal character in the allocation of public positions.
It is on record that Mrs. Anohu-Amazu’s predecessor, Mohammad Ahmad who was appointed by President Olusegun Obasanjo, served two complete terms of eight years during which the first steps in rebuilding the sector were made. Mrs. Anohu-Amazu who took over from him, greatly consolidated on Ahmad’s successes, building up pension assets from N2.5 trillion to N6.5 trillion within three years. Even more, in an era when corruption was a national currency, it is gratifying that there was no dint of such traced to PENCOM despite the humongous funds it manages.
Organized Labour, a major stakeholder in the industry in an unusual move, has demanded the reinstatement of the sacked management led by Mrs Ahonu-Amazu.
We are worried that at a time of pointed accusations of marginalisation by elements from the South-east, a Federal organization that a person from the zone led satisfactorily and profitably to the benefit of all Nigerians is now mired in this unwholesome politics.
We call on the Federal Government to apply the laws and restore equity in the affairs of PENCOM and all other Federal agencies as directed by the constitution. The pension sector must not be politicised.