PenCom boss queried for spending N5 billion on 380 staff in 8 months

The Acting Director-General of the Nigeria Pension Commission (PenCom), Aisha Dahir-Umar has been queried by the House of Representatives on how the finances of the government agency was managed. PenCom boss was accused of flouting the law by spending funds without the approval of the National Assembly.

According to the House of Representatives, the management of PenCom made it a habit of spending funds from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the commission without following due process as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.

Funds spent without approval: The lawmakers disclosed that the management of PenCom spent N2,138,440,241.57 from the Internally Generated Revenue of the commission on ‘Admin Expenses’ without the approval of the National Assembly.

SEEPCO, local content laws, CBN Cashless Policy: Reps eye policy reversal, court Emiefele approval , Lawmakers tackle Finance Minister over failed CCTV project worth $460 million , Former Ghanaian President, Mahama begs Buhari to open border Former President of Ghana, John Mahama has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to open up its borders saying that Ghana has been heavily affected by Nigeria’s decision to close its borders. Mahama said that for economic activities to resume in West Africa, Nigeria needs to reconsider its decision on the total border closure. He made this plea while delivering the seventh anniversary lecture of investiture into The Realnews Hall of Fame and the unveiling of a book, titled: Pathways to Political and Economic Development of Africa. According to the former president as reported in The Nation, the closure of especially the Benin border, was taking a significant toll on many small and medium businesses, especially in Togo, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, which relied on inter-country trade. “I am sure that businesses in Nigeria that rely on supplies from these countries are also suffering. With the signing of the joint border task force agreement between Nigeria and her neighbours, I will like to take this opportunity to appeal to Nigeria to open up her border so that economic activities can resume,” Mahama said. While reacting to the shut down of shops owned by Nigerians by the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) as retaliation to the border closure, Mahama said; “Back home in Ghana, I also look forward to our government’s intervention that brings an immediate cessation to the forceful and illegal closure of shops of foreigners, especially Nigerians, by members of the local trade associations”. Mahama who is a former Chairman of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) spoke on how he still has an abiding interest in the progress of ECOWAS and its people. In this light, he said that Nigeria being the home of ECOWAS and the largest economy in West Africa should not allow the objective principles for establishment of ECOWAS to be lost. Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor of Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo, advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to yield to pressure to reopen the borders. Edoumiekumo who was also present at the lecture said President Buhari should remain firm in his resolve to ensure economic growth and the country’s development as the border closure will generate more revenue for the nation and tackle smuggling.

The commission was also faulted by the members of the House Committee on Pensions headed by the lawmaker, Alhassan Rurum, for disbursing N369,688,000.00 from the Commission’s Internally Generated Revenue on ‘Miscellaneous Expenses’.

PenCom’s numerous unapproved spendings include over N5 billion spent on the salaries of about 380 members of staff within the first eight (8) months of the year 2019 and the N731,477,627.90 spent on ‘Capacity Building Costs’, as well as N1,831,275,331.00 spent on ‘Operational and Monitoring Expenses’, all of which were not approved by the National Assembly.

Honourable Alhassan Rurum kicked against this pattern of spending at the budget defence session with Dahir-Umar and other members of the management of the commission.

Lawmaker approval not needed: According to the committee, PenCom claimed that the commission didn’t need the approval of the lawmakers. The excuse didn’t sit well with the lawmakers who said the management team of the commission must explain to the committee why it claimed that “it is the right of the Commission to start spending its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) without further recourse to the National Assembly as soon as Mr President signs the Appropriation Act into Law, even when the IGR does not form part of the Appropriation Bill in the first place.” 

In a report by The Nation, Dahir-Umar responded to the queries at the budget defence, but the lawmakers insisted on seeing the documents where approvals were given for the funds disbursed by PenCom; evidence of appropriation for the 2019 spending; as well as the cash flow analysis for the Internally Generated Revenue already spent by Monday, December 9, 2019.

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