THE POLITICS OF APPOINTMENT OF MRS. CHINELO ANOHU-AMAZU; THE FORMER DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL PENSION COMMISSION

12 May 2017
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PENSION REFORM ACT 2014
Some pessimists are calling the pension reform act 2014 as the “Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu’s  pension reform act 2014. The more ardent ones among them are labeling it as “Anyim’s pension reform act 2014”. But one thing is clear, one need not to be pessimist to understand that, the pension reform act 2014 was framed and designed purposely to install Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu as the substantive Director General of National Pension Commission (PenCom) at all cost. In addition, the proposed bill recommends five (5) years tenure as against four (04) years for the PenCom boss in the pension act 2014.


The only cosmetic change made apart from reducing the number of years of experience to qualify an individual to be the DG of PenCom was the upgrading of the employees and employers minimum monthly compulsory contribution of salary  to 8 percent respectively. The order changes; the bill prescribed a 10 years jail term for anyone found guilty of misappropriating pension funds. All other changes in the bill were predetermined to achieve the objective of installing Mrs. Anohu-Amazu as the DG of PenCom.

 


The joint National Assembly committees on Establishment, public Service Matters, who initiated the pension Reform and House committee on pension, have played on the intelligence of Nigerian’s by spending huge amount of resources for a predetermined result. The call for the public merandum then and recommendations submitted by stakeholders and pension professionals were never adopted in the committees’ report. The two Houses committees have lost their credibility; they were accused of forgery.

It was fair enough, before continuing with the deliberation on the committees’ report the leadership of the Houses should have called for an independent investigation on the shameful scandal and the joint committees’ ought to have stepped down before the completion of investigation of the serious allegation of forging the committee member’s signatures, by some members, apparently to achieve their ulterior motives. The accusation of bribery made against some of the pension committee members by Mr. Abdulrashid; the pension taskforce chairman was still pending unresolved, at the time the committee submitted their predetermined report. There was no way in any decent society; any recommendation made by this committee would have been accepted as credible.


The government of president Goodluck Jonathan was accused in many quarters of impunity in the way it ran its administration. Several Ministers were accused of corruption from the inception of the administration, in most cases nothing was done to contain their excesses. The pension reform bill was passed as a new pension law 2014, despite all the controversies surrounding it, however, there were opinions in some quarters, that the president may not be party to all these shoddy deals.

But his cluelessness allowed these charlatans to temper with the pension law for their selfish reasons. Principally, some pension experts believe that the main purpose of effecting a change in the previous pension act 2004 was simply to install an inexperienced professional to serve a certain regional interest.
Some pension pundits argued that it was fishy how the contentious clause in the new pension bill which recommended the scrapping the provision of 20 years of experience required of Director General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) was approved by the senate at the time when the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu presided over the chamber, despite it was vehemently opposed by the then president of the senate Mr David Mark.

Contrary to the reasoning of the framers of the existing pension Reform Act 2004 who ensure that the commission’s DG must possess professional skill and with not less than 20 years of cognate experience was expunged as requirement to pave way for a single individual interest who ought to have retired having served for eight (8) years as company secretary on the level of Director. It is sad, when one notes that the actuarial profession in U.S.A and other western world, but absurdly is truncated to serve a selfish interest of the myopic few; our law makers were docile to have allowed this happenings possibly for pecuniary gains.


The questions raised by concern Nigerians was that; was it a coincident the House of Representative lower the DG’s experience bar when it was presided over by the Deputy Speaker; Emeka Ihedioha, when previously the members of both the lower and upper houses opposed the decision to lower, which was viewed as an attempt to pave way for: Mrs. Chinelo Anohu Amazu to become the substantive DG. Apart from setting a bad precedence by allowing this change to sail through; as it was well known fact that Mrs. Anohu Amazu had already served as a director or its equivalent in the commission, therefore, Supposed to retire along with all the commissioners in accordance with all the existing law.

Surprisingly, also in order to pave way for this injustice, a whole gamut of Actuarial Science profession was replaced with part VII of section 26 item(2d) which state that, the DG of PenCom shall posses relevant and adequate professional qualification in pension matters with 15 years cognate experience. While in the pension act 2004, the law was specific; it stated that the Director General shall have a minimum of Degrees in Actuarial Science, Insurance, Accounting, Management or Law with at least 20 years cognate professional experience.

There were numbers of institutions of higher learning offering Actuarial Science as a course, and there were numerous students who registered for the course. Could it be that the leadership ambitions of such young people are being truncated? It is unbelievable that such things happened in our country.
The Executive  Secretary of the National Universities Commission, stated that there was plan under foot to expand “Actuarial Science” was the solution to Nigeria Unemployment problems; Daily Trust, Wednesday 14, 2014 pg. 14.

We believe this kind of injustice as allowed to happen in Nigeria by the unpatriotic element, have now succeeded in killing the aspirations of the teeming population of youth who studied actuarial science. The motivating factor to so many of them was to one day fulfilling the ambition of being the Director General or top executive officers at PenCom. So therefore, by expunging the actuarial science as one of the qualification to head PenCom, certainly many would drop the idea of studying the course.


One wonders why such issues attracted so much attention from several quarters; especially among the top government functionaries in the last administration it was reported by the media that there was so much pressure from the above on the legislators of both Houses to lower the age bar. The lobby, was so in-tensed; there was allegation that a lot of monetary inducement was made to achieve this undesirable objective. The then secretary of the government was allegedly rumored to be the arrow head of this undesirable project. It was a pity that some of our legislators because of the pecuniary gains, allowed this impunity to happen.

In some decent societies, Actuaries dictate happenings in pension matters, because of their training that provided them with the skill to analyze the financial consequences of pension risk, they often use mathematics, statistics and financial theory to study uncertain future events, especially those concerning pensions. It appears, the country has learned nothing in the past events, especially those concerning pensions; which involved scandalous mismanagement and misappropriation of pension.

Pension professionals were justified in reading ulterior motives in relegating qualified professional to neotype in managing our National Legacy such as pension. More so, presently the pension assets are in the region of 6.2 trillion. Nigerians of goodwill should critically look the pension law objectively with the view of pragmatic amendment which had been long overdue. Ironically, the chilian pension model adopted by Nigerians has been jettisoned in chili; Nigeria is being taunted globally for copying wrongly an unworkable pension system.   

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