The plan by the House of Representatives to probe the activities of the National Pension Commission since April 2017 till date has sent tongues wagging on the exact motives of the investigation.
Recall that an ad-hoc Committee headed by Hon. E.J. Agbonayinma had in a letter titled “Request for Information” to the Acting Director-General of PenCom, Aisha Umar, dated January 21, requested confidential information on the Contributory Pension Fund.
The commission was also mandated to provide sensitive information on its operations such as “The Net Asset Values of the Contributory Pension Funds, details of supervision and regulations of Pension Fund Administrators and their key instructions and performances, compliances and defaults, annual pension operations of all the Pension Fund Administrators (i.e. details of amount collected from contributors and amount being paid out to retirees, from April 2017 till date).”
Recently the house summoned heads of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), ministry of finance and civil service of the federation to an investigative hearing.
However, some experts have condemned the move by the green chambers, saying it is contrary to the provisions of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014 which forbids the Commission and members of the Commission from disclosing such information.
A former Managing Director of Premium Pensions Limited, Mr. Wilson Ideva in an interview with THISDAY, criticised the house of reps actions saying it is a total lack of knowledge on the part of the lawmakers about the pension industry.
“I think we need to do a lot of education for our lawmakers. I think there is a knowledge gap. Another thing I think we should address is that employers don’t remit monies to PenCom.
“Somebody asking you to bring the account of 8.2 million RSA holders, to start with, is not possible. Also, this is a confidential matter because my RSA account is personal to me.
“It is just like if I have an account with a bank, you cannot summon the central bank to produce the bank account of every Nigeria. If PenCom does that, RSA holders that are enlightened may sue the commission and there might be pandemonium.
“The Act clearly states that RSA account is confidential and not a public document.”
The current chief executive of High Street Consulting Limited, who was surprised over the house investigations added “The other thing I find strange is that the pension assets, which is about N8.5 trillion is not a government fund. These are total deductions made from peoples’ salary accounts and the one the employer pays and the employers are not just the government.
“Some of us are ready to sue PenCom if this confidential information is given out because it is an infringement on the right of the account holders as well as the business strategies of respective operator companies.”