- N182 billion recovered so far
- House of Rep commends Maina
- 71, 133 fake pensioners detected
- Presidency Backs Maina
When Abdulrasheed Maina was given the saddle to handle the pension task force team in the Head of Service pension office and that of the Police Pension Office, he was not aware of what he was getting into, but things began to unfold when the began. However, Abdulrasheed proper job Maina Pension Reform Task Team so far had made an immeasurable and remarkable success in their given task.
In an exclusive chat with the Chairman, Maina told this paper that so far a whooping N182 billion fraud had been uncovered with the assistance of the EFCC in pension offices across the country. The ongoing reform is yielding results according to Maina, as he said of the “N182 billion the task team in conjunction with the EFCC traced and recovered a total of about N24billion and N15 billion worth of property from some corrupt government officials in the Office of the Head of Service Pension Department. Sixty six illegal bank accounts with N180million were also discovered.”
While commending the EFCC and ICPC for their roles in achieving the feat, Maina decried the plight of pensioners before his team was inaugurated in June 2010, noting that such plight was brought about not by paucity of funds “but due to large scale corruption through diversion and mismanagement of pension fund, manipulation and falsification of data, non-improvement in the pension administrative structure, bureaucracy with poor, unreliable and inefficient accounting system.”
Among the great things done by Maina was his successful conduct of the nationwide biometric verification of pensioners and in the process detecting 71, 133 fake pensioners.
According to Maina “It’s as a result of the work carried out by the pensions reform task team that we were able to recover such colossal funds; about N182 billion. Mr. President instructed that all pensioners must be paid their benefits, the beneficiaries of those that have died must be paid their death benefits while those who have never been paid must be paid their accumulated pensions.”
“Definitely in doing that, we will step on so many toes and in trying to cleanse the system, you will have resistance. We have had this issue for over 44 years. The President has delivered on pensions and we are going to accomplish more tasks in sanitizing the pensions system in Nigeria. Pensioners from other pensions departments such as Nigerian Railways, Nigerian Airways are calling us to come and cleanse their offices. We will wait for the President’s directive as per that.”
The task team, he continued, “is a creation of the Executive arm of government and the President has not wound up the pensions reform task team yet. We have information going round that the task team has been disbanded. It has not been disbanded. We are working as directed by the President and he has ordered us to ensure that pensioners are paid as at when due.”
He said the team had built an institution, which would continue to function even if he (Maina) left office. “It’s not only if I’m here that things will work. We have developed an e-pension solution. In the past, we have seen how pensioners were dying in the office of the Head of Service (HOS) and how they used to live under the bridges in Abuja.”’
In the executive summary given to the this paper, Maina highlighted a lot of things in their 19 months of operation which the Team has achieved, this includes recovered and saved over N182bn for the FG, mopping up N74 bn from the PRTT recovered funds for 2012 budget and this was attested to during the senate hearing. Other successes recorded include deletion of 71,135 Ghost/under aged pensioners from the office of the Head of Service Pension office, stopped monthly stealing of N4.25b from the OHCSF Pension office and also cut off N1 billion Police Pension Monthly releases from N1.59 billion to N500 million. Moreover more successes include the N19.3 billion police pension scam that led to arrest of a permanent Secretary and five others.
In their continuing effort report from Maina indicates it was not easy, but a lot was achieved as a total of 44,320 pensioners that had never been enrolled for pension most of them retired for over 35 years and the task team paid all their entitlements including accrued arrears. Other successes recorded include traced and cracked down on pension cartel and getting to the root of the pension scam in the country, while many properties belonging to pension syndicates seized by the EFCC were followed with their prosecution.
In the reformation of pension in the country, Maina said that “128,000 hard copies of OHCSF pensioners’ files had been put into electronic format, even as they detected a fraud of over N2.7b perpetrated by the National Union of Pensioners.”
“There has been also the e-pension Management System platform (e-pms) with 4 pension offices on the platform now, simplified the procession period of getting pension entitlements from 3 months in the past to now 24 hours and creating a system that will put a stop to reoccurring verification of pension which has created undue suffering to the pensioners. This was made possible through the use of Smart Card,” Maina said in his report.
Meanwhile the Senate Committee on Pension headed by Senator Aloysius and Gaya respectively has been fighting the Maina Team. DESERT HERALD’s findings revealed that part of the reasons why the Senate was fighting Maina is that when they went to the Office of the Head of Service Pension office and Police pension office and even several pension offices in the country demanding hundreds of millions of Naira to facilitate their hearing and met a brick wall as the pension offices they visited told them no as they were informed that Maina Task Force Team had blocked all accounts of the various pension offices. So with the release not given, they sought and threatened to deal with Maina and no wonder they were calling for his head rather than appreciating what he has done, like their counterparts in the House of Representatives.
It will be recalled that the House of Representatives has called for the Pension Reform Task Team to be retained as a “Standing Pension Reform Task Team” which President Goodluck Jonathan could deploy at any given moment to solve peculiar “knotty” cases across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
This statement was contained in a letter presented by the Chairman of the House Committee on Pensions, Hon. Ibrahim Bawa Kamba, to the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Isa Bello Sali.
Kamba, who commended President Jonathan’s Pension Reforms through the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, described the Pension Reform Task Team as “a credible vehicle” for the pension reform agenda.
He said: “This is the resultant effect of the follow-up to the just concluded on-the-spot assessment of the Pension Reform Task Team both at home and in the Diaspora, which took the House Committee delegation to Nigerian Consulate at New York on April 5, 2012, to verify the Diaspora biometrics data-capturing efforts of the Pension Task Team and for confirmation of records.”
Moreover in the report this paper gathered that these syndicates useed Primary School teachers, Minors, Secondary school teachers, farmers, underage; they recruit like in a state one thousand, two thousand, and five thousand and so on. “So they will go in and open bank accounts for them and they channeled these funds into their accounts and at the end of the month each person will take ten percent of that money and they return the rest to the people. They also have connivance with the banks. Another method they used was when a pensioner is alive the colour of his file is green, when he dies it is now red, now Guarantee period is five years because we are operating pay as you go scheme until the last pensioner dies. So what they do is they will take file and say this pensioner dies in active service, he has not collected his pension, so they will now calculate the death gratuity and five years pension in block maybe say eight million and they will pay and then they will take that same file and remove the cover and make it green, the person is now alive again and they put him on pay roll. And they will start collecting money and after collecting money they will put him on pay roll that he has just retired, so they will collect gratuity again, and enroll him on pension and after sometimes they will take the file and put it on red and now they say the man is dead.
Another issue which was also said to have been dismissed by Maina was also the rumours making rounds that the team has been disbanded by President Goodluck Jonathan. Maina said the committee was still intact carrying out its responsibilities.
Source: Desert Herald