ATTENTION was yesterday focused on alleged corruption in the pension administration with the Senate President David Mark, appealing to the conscience of the managers not to divert the money, an act he likened to stealing “blood money.”
At a public hearing on pension management in the country organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Establishment with states and local councils, Mark condemned the current situation where pensioners were allowed to die struggling to get their benefits.
Mark, who was represented at the event by Senate Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, said: “The moral strength of the nation is determined by two things. The first is how that nation treats the most vulnerable of the society and the second is how it shows appreciation to those who have served the nation faithfully. Pensioners have become a part of that vulnerable class because they have served their nation faithfully and on retirement after several years of active service deserve special attention.
“Government must be for those who need government the most and usually, it is the most vulnerable who should need government most. How have we projected pensioners who are the most vulnerable in our midst? Can we truly say that as a nation, we have shown appreciation to these old men and old women, who gave the best in their youths to their country? If we cannot say so, then, it is a burden on our collective conscience.
“Today, on the management of our pensions, we hear mind-boggling stories. Administrators of pensions, we hear, are perhaps among the richest Nigerians. If their wealth is from people’s pensions, then, that is blood money. You cannot take away the sweat, the entitlement of an old man or an old woman who is living on that stipend and believe that you will be in peace. The prayers and cries of these old men and women will not only follow you, they will go after your children and the generations after them,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) has refuted allegations that it is feeding fat on pensioners’ funds.
The Director-General of PENCOM, Kabir Mohammed Ahmed, told journalists in Abuja at the public hearing that the responsibility of dispensing funds resides with licensed pension administrators.
According to him, the new pension scheme is so ring-fenced that it does not create room for fraud.