Disquiet in PenCom over DG’s Qualification

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– The Intrigues, Manipulations and Impunity That Saw Her Into Office
– Why Buhari Couldn’t Sack DG, The Roles Of El-Rufai, Anyim, Mu’azu, Etok, Others

By Emmanuel Iffer

dg peencomThere is an uneasy calm at the Wuse II headquarters of the National Pension Commission(PenCom), just as tongues are also wagging within the industry over the continuous stay in office as Director General of commission, and Regulator-In-Chief of the sector, Mrs Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, despite the avowed determination of President Muhammadu Buhari to end impunity, particularly in government appointments which had characterised the immediate past.

Some officials of the commission as well as stakeholders, who confided in nationalTRAIL have expressed their disappointment saying they had thought that Amazu would have been top among chief executives that were recently shown the exit by the president, considering the flawed manner which she had emerged as DG of the commission in the first place.
One source a good knowledge of the sector, told our correspondent that it wasn’t surprising that Anohu-Amazu, escaped the Buhari’s recent hammer that sank no less that 26 heads of government agencies, because she had mastered and perfected the act of scheming and maneuvering her way through the corridors of power which she firmly has under her control.
According to the source; “ I had thought that the recent sweeping sack of heads of government agencies would have the PenCom DG topping the list, but it wasn’t the case, but let me say that am not surprised that she wasn’t among them, that lady knows her way, she knows how to scheme through, so she may have again played her game.
“ How did she from nowhere emerged and scheme old and well qualified persons to become DG, even when by the pension reformed Act, she was not qualified, the law was amended, and qualification was lowed just to pave way for her, so those of us who know her and happens within the sector are not in any way surprised at all, and things may remain so, despite the change mantra in the land.”
According to investigation Anohu-Amazu, was never qualified to be so appointed as acting DG of PenCom in the first place going by civil services rules on account that as at the time, she was appointed in December of 2012, she had served for eight years, as Company Secretary, which was at the directorate level, and ought to have proceeded on retirement leave.
nationalTRAIL however learnt that instead of that been the case, the then Secretary to Government of the Federation, Chief Ayim Pius Ayim, a former President of the Senate, via a memo dated December 10, 2012, directed the then DG, M.K. Ahmad, who pioneered the commission, putting it on a sound footing to hand over to Anohu-Amazu ahead days before his December 16, 2012 retirement date.
A situation that had created a lot of bad blood among senior staff who grumbled over what considered a breach of the service rules in the appointment of a successor to the retiring DG, wondering if the SGF memo could have superior powers over established services rules governing tenure, especially as it affects directors, who have two terms of four years each.
nationalTRAIL further learnt that having secured the acting position, which was viewed as impunity of the highest order, the next thing was to seek confirmation as DG.
The next thing was to remove all obstacles in her way by getting the Act establishing PenCom amended to pave way for Anohu-Amazu, who was not qualified to assumed the position, even in acting capacity in the first place.
According to section 16 of the then Pension Reform Act of 2004, to be qualified as DG PenCom, such individual must “possess professional skill and with not less than twenty years cognate experience relating to pension matters and or insurance, Actuarial Science or other related field.”
However, Anohu-Amazu, only began her working career in 1998, as such could not have met the 20 years requirement to be made head of the pension regulatory agency.
But allegations points in the direction of the former SGF, Ayim Pius Ayim, who alleged to have gotten then President Goodluck Jonathan, to forward a bill to the National Assembly, seeking to amend several aspects of the then Pension Reform Act of 2004, which nationalTRAIL was informed that had enjoyed the support of stakeholders within the sector.
But nationalTRAIL also learnt that the aspect dealing with of DG’s qualification, was later smuggled in without their knowledge, which now introduced a new Section 26 Subsection 2d, stating that: “The Director General shall possess relevant and adequate professional qualification in pension matters with 15 years cognate experience.”
By the above section, Section 16 in the former Act, was abrogated, and years of experience lowed to pave way for Anohu-Amazu, a situation that had caused tension, both within the sector and the National Assembly, but was curiously passed and amended as proposed under the senate presidency of David Mark and Aminu Tambuwal as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
After which, the senate, on September 30, 2014, confirmed her appointment as DG and a commissioner, just as had all along been anticipated, which also ran contrary to the principles of federal character, since the immediate past commissioner representing the east was from the same Anambra as Anohu-Amazu.
A source at the National Assembly also alleged that the Joint National Assembly Committee on Pensions, Establishment and Public Service Matters, whose report on the matter was first rejected, was also compromised into lowering qualification for the DG.
The report had made a very loosed recommendation thus: “fit and proper person with adequate cognate experience in pension matters.” As qualification.
The said report, was described by our source as forgery which was why the senate had warned Chairman of the Committee, Aloysius Etok against resubmitting the report without verifiable signatures all members of his committee.
The current governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasiru El-Rufai, is also alleged to have played a role in the controversial emergency Anohu-Amazu as DG PenCom, it is however, not very clear El-Rufai’s role or relationship with her is, our correspondent learnt that the DG had worked with the Bureau of Public Enterprise(BPE), when the governor served as DG, and have since then maintained a close relationship with her.
A source at the commission informed nationalTRAIL that even recently, El-Rufai as governor, was at PenCom to visit her, thereby raising very curious question as to what is between the two, apart from that they had worked in the same organisation, many years back.
There are also allegations that her closeness with the governor may have been her saving grace, which spared her from the Buhari hammer which recently swept heads of agencies across the nation.
As it is stand today, our investigation has revealed those who participated in the act of impunity, appears to have been all rewarded by the DG.
nationalTRAIL learnt that presently; Senator Etok, former Attorney General, Bayo Ojo have their sons employed with the commission( Though Ojo’s son resigned recently), just as former Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) chairman, who was also chairman, PenCom board, Adamu Muazu, also have his daughter employed, while El-Rufai have a relation also employed by the commission.
Our correspondent learnt that in all about 200 people were employed then, without following the due process, no advertisement as required, which it was allegedly done to reward those who made it possible for her to remain and eventually clinch the exulted position of PenCom DG.
When contacted, Senator Aloysius Etok, said that the bill lowering the age for a potential DG was meant to open up and allow younger people to fully bring in their knowhow and also contribute their quota.
He insisted noted that “Besides, the bill was not passed Etok, it was passed by 369 people, I only coordinated the bill, because it even came from the executive, so you cannot say it is Etok’s bill.
However, when our correspondent called the DG’s telephone, a voice simply came saying, “am not available to pick your call now, but you can leave a message after tone.”
The following text message was then sent and the following reply also came:
“Good evening DG, would appreciate it, if u can respond to some allegations against u and how u became DG PenCom, among others”(4.56Pm)
Then this reply: “ Who is this please”(5.02PM)
Then this followed: “Sorry, am Emma, nationalTRAIL newspaper”(5.09PM).
Then this:”Please come to the office at 11am tomorrow”(5.12PM).
Telephone calls to Samuel Aruwan, spokesperson for the Kaduna State governor, were not answered, the following text message was then sent to the same line;
“Sam, am doing a story concerning PenCom DG, nd ur principal is mentioned, so u may wnt to ans my call pls. Emma, nationalTRAIL newspaper.
However, as at press time, there was no response from the Kaduna governor’s spokesperson, at 11pm.