Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has clarified his position on the issue of alleged pension funds diversion by the National Pension Commission, PENCOM, saying he never accused the commission of diverting N3.5 trillion pension funds.
Mr. Oshiomhole said the commission had nothing to do directly with pension funds.
In a statement he personally signed, the governor said his position was about how pension funds operators invest hard-earned workers’ money in Federal Government Bonds and Treasury Bills, which in turn were mismanaged.
“Recently, a section of news media attributed comments to me regarding the way and manner in which pension funds to the tune of 3.5 trillion naira were drawn down to support recurrent expenditure and not infrastructure development.
“In the said reports, the impression created was that I had accused the National Pension Commission, PENCOM, of colluding with the Federal Ministry of Finance to divert the said amount.
“Considering the manner in which this serious economic issue that borders on the future of the Nigerian economy and the welfare of the Nigerian workers who make contributions to the pension funds, is being misrepresented and trivialized in the media, I wish to make some clarifications and set the record straight.
“As someone involved from the outset in the crafting of the PENCOM Act, I am very much aware that under the law, PENCOM is a regulator of the financial institutions and operators that deal directly with the management of the pension funds and pension assets, namely: the Pension Funds Administrators, PFAs, and the Pension Funds Custodians, PFCs.
“I could not have said therefore that PENCOM diverted pension money because it has nothing to do directly with pension money in the first place.
“Indeed, I recall that when the pension reforms, which led to the creation of PENCOM were being formulated, the selling point of the contributory pension scheme was that pension funds should be source of cheap and long-term funds that would be used to support programmes and investments that will enhance workers welfare such as housing and the creation of a robust mortgage system.
“However, what turned out in the management and operations of the pension funds was a completely different ball game.
“It is open knowledge that the PFAs are among the major subscribers of Federal Government of Nigeria Bonds and Treasury Bills, which are instruments of FGN’s domestic borrowing, issued periodically by the Debt Management Office, DMO, and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, respectively, on behalf of the Federal Government.
“FGN Bonds as debt securities are generally considered safest relative to other debt instruments in the capital market because they are governed by the “faith and credit” principle; offer attractive rates and guaranteed returns, at least in theory,” the governor said.
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