…Admits DG Dahir-Umar A Visionary Leader
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has retracted its allegation and apostatized its earlier position of ‘wasteful spending’ against the National Pension Commission (PenCom).
The Association did not stop at that but also went further to pass a vote of confidence on the agency’s Director-General Aisha Dahir-Umar.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the NANS Senate President Attah Felix Nnalue admitted that the union’s recent Freedom of Information (FOI) letter on the alleged annual expenditure of N14 billion on personnel costs was not only misleading but wasn’t backed by any fact.
The union had threatened to stage daily mass protests against PenCom should the pension regulator fail to furnish it with the details demanded in the FOI.
Nnalue, however, said that after carefully reviewing its allegations against PenCom, NANS found that there was a “marked difference between staff cost and staff salary” with the former consisting of training allowances, staff exit benefit scheme, and employers’ pension contribution “as opposed to salaries that are fixed and eared monthly”.
He blamed the misconception on the “lack of inattentiveness that played out at the National Assembly” when the lawmakers recently invited officials of PenCom to seek clarification on issues as part of their oversight functions.
He reiterated that NANS realized that it was “inconceivable for anybody to suggest that the least paid worker at the PenCom earns as much as N3m!
”Explaining the decision to pass the vote of confidence on Dahir-Umar, NANS said the PenCom DG has shown “exemplary leadership and track record of performance” over the years.
Part of Nnalue’s speech reads: “It is imperative to state that at the inception of the PenCom over 18 years ago, the Commission has operated, especially under the present DG, an employee compensation policy that favourably compares to comparator government bodies in the financial services sector, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“Furthermore, the NANS is aware that the Presidential Committee on the Consolidation of Emoluments in the Public Sector headed by the late Chief Ernest Shonekan, former Head of the Interim National Government, made a number of recommendations which guided the PenCom Board in its compensation review exercises. One of the recommendations is that the pay structure of self-funded agencies should be benchmarked with their private sector comparators so as to ensure relativity in such agencies and attract and retain high-caliber professionals.
“It is important that focus should be on steps taken by the Aisha Dahir-Umar-led PenCom to safeguard contributors’ funds rather than on inanity. It is on this note we have summarised the laudable feats of the PenCom under Hajia Aisha Dahir-Urnar:
- Growth of the pension assets from N6.42 trillion in 2017 to N14.3 trillion as of July, 2022.
- Introduced the Multi-Fund Structure of investment of pension fund assets to address the investment appetite and preference of contributors as well as their age profile.
- Approved a structured reduction of fees on the Net Asset Value of pension fund assets.
- Introduced the Micro Pension Plan for the participation of informal sector workers in the Contributory Pension Scheme. The Micro Pension Plan was formally launched by Mr. President on 28 March 2019.
- Developed the Enhanced Contributor Registration System (ECRS) to clean and enhance the integrity of the pension industry database.
- Introduced the RSA Transfer Window to enable contributors to change their PFAs at least once in a year.
- Instituted a periodic Pension Enhancement programme every three years, where the retirees’ monthly pensions are enhanced based on the performance of their RSAs.
- Automated the Annual Enrolment Exercise for FGN retirees to remove the inconvenience of the physical process of the exercise.
- Recently issued the Guidelines for Access to a Percentage of RSA balance towards payment of Equity Contribution for residential mortgage.
- Strengthened the minimum capital base of PFAs from N1billion to N5billion for better service delivery to contributors.
- Facilitated the payment of outstanding accrued pension rights of FGN retirees, which drastically shortened the waiting period for accessing their retirement benefits.”