Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, has petitioned the Senate Committee on Establishment over the nomination of Aisha Dahir-Umar as the Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM).
In the two-page petition dated October 14, 2020 addressed to the Chairman of the committee, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, which was entitled ‘A Petition Against The Nomination Of Aisha Dahir-Umar as Director-General Of Pension Commission (PENCOM)’, Abaribe asked the committee to stop forthwith the screening of the DG nominee as it was at variance with the Act establishing the commission.
According to him, the nomination of Umar was in clear violation of section 20 (1) and section 21 (1) and (2) of the National Pension Commission Act 2014.
The Minority Leader in the petition stated inter alia:
“I hereby forward herewith a petition in respect to the above subject matter to alert you on the inherent none-adherence to the provision of the Act that established PENCOM.
“The purpose therewith, is for the distinguished Committee to stop action that could lead to the clearance of the nomination of Mrs. Aisha Dahir-Umar as Director General (DG) of National Pension Commission (PENCOM), because her nomination is in flagrant breach of the Act, particularly the section that deals with replacement of the DG when the need arises.
“May I, draw your attention to section 20 (1) and section 21 (1) and (2) of the National Pension Commission Act 2014, which state that, “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.
“I recall that the tenure of the incumbent was truncated; therefore the nomination of Mrs. Dahir-Umar by the President that has now moved the DG to another zone is not correct and has breached the Pension Act and the Federal Character Commission.
“Accordingly, and in line with the provisions of the law in this case the “National Pension Commission Act 2014”, the nominee is automatically disqualified from holding the office of DG PENCOM.
“To refresh your mind, Distinguished Senators, the immediate past DG, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, had her five-year tenure truncated two years before the end of her term and as such having come from the South East geo-political zone, it behoves on the President to nominate her replacement from the same zone to complete the term in obedience to the provision of the Pension Act.
“It is therefore, in line with the spirit and letter of the constitution, which we all swore to uphold as Senators and in adherence to the provisions of the National Pension Act 2014, that I urge you, distinguished colleagues to reject the nomination of Mrs. Aisha Dahir-Umar.
Doing so, will no doubt strengthen our laws and the institution of the National Assembly.”
The Senate South East caucus led by the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinaya Abaribe, had a fortnight ago rejected the nomination of Umar as PENCOM DG, as replacement for Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, whose appointment was terminated in 2017, two years to the end of her tenure.
Also last week, the PENCOM workers under the aegis of Pension Workers Advocacy Group, in a petition to the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, asked the upper legislative chamber to stay further legislative action on the six board nominees.
The group in a two-page letter dated October 6, 2020 addressed to Lawan stressed the need for Senate leadership to direct the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters to stay action on the confirmation of the six nominees sent to the Red Chamber by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The petition signed by Alhaji Isyaku Abdulrahman on behalf of the concerned workers drew the attention of the Senate President to “the flagrant violation of procurement process, abuse of office and criminal diversion of public funds by Aisha Dahir-Umar, Acting Director General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) and her cohorts whose nomination as Director General was submitted by the President for confirmation by the Senate.”
President Buhari had in September, 2020 in a letter addressed to President of the Senate, Lawan nominated the duo of Dr. Oyindasola Oluremi Oni and Aishat Umar from North-central and North-east respectively for the office of Chairman and DG of the Board.
Others nominated as Commissioners include Hannatu Musa (North-west); Clement Akintola (South-west); Ayim Nyerere (South-east) and Charles Emukowhale (South-south).
The President told the organisers that he was looking forward to personal participation in the campaign, adding: ‘’Together, we must outgrow hunger in Nigeria. It is in our common interest to do so.’’