Mrs. Aisha Dahir-Umar, AG D-G, Pencom

OBINNA EZUGWU

The Director-General National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs. Aisha Dahir-Umar, has disclosed that an accumulated pension asset in excess of N13 trillion has been invested in various sectors of the Nigerian economy.

Dahir-Umar who stated this in her goodwill message at the opening ceremony of the two-days sensitization workshop on the “Eradication of Pension Fraud in Nigeria, said the fund is still growing.

Pension assets have continued its growth trajectory monthly, soaring to N12.78 trillion as of July 31, 2021.


In its recent data, PenCom stated that the pension fund asset stood at N12.31 trillion as of December 31, 2020, and soared to N12.78 trillion by July 31, 2021, indicating a difference of N47 billion.

According to Dahir-Umar, PenCom is, indeed, pleased to partner with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in this awareness creation initiative, which essentially seeks to examine the incidences of fraud in the pension sector in Nigeria and ways of eradicating the menace in a proactive manner.

She noted that the continued collaboration with the EFCC would certainly serve as a catalyst for reducing the menace of fraud in the pension industry to the barest minimum.

Her words: “This event will, no doubt, create the synergy needed to boost the efforts of the two organizations in the discharge of their respective statutory mandates relating to the theme of the workshop.

” The problems of fraud and mismanagement in the pension sector in Nigeria were amongst the reasons that necessitated the pension reform of 2004 by the Federal Government.”

The Pension Reform Act 2004, which was later reviewed and re-enacted in 2014, introduced legal and institutional frameworks aimed at addressing the rot that characterized the administration of pensions in the pre-reform era.

The Act also established PenCom to regulate and supervise all pension matters in Nigeria, including the licensing of Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) and Pension Fund Custodians (PFCs).

The Pension Transitional Arrangements Directorate (PTAD) was also established by the PRA 2014 to administer, in a transparent manner, the Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS) for pensioners exempted from the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).

According to the DG, these measures substantially restored credibility and confidence in Nigeria’s pension systems.

“Thus, we have today, an industry that has accumulated pension assets in excess of N13 trillion, invested in various aspects of the economy and still growing.

“Pursuant to its statutory mandate under Section 23(f) of the PRA 2014, PenCom has consistently undertaken public education, enlightenment, and awareness campaigns on the CPS and other pension matters.

“It has also developed and established structures, systems, and procedures that ensure transparency, accountability, and efficiency in the administration of pensions in Nigeria,” she stated.

These systems and procedures she added, have become reference points for other African countries, many of whom have undertaken study visits to the Commission.

However, she regretted that as is the case with every human endeavor, retrogressive elements continued to exploit procedural gaps in the operations of pension practitioners in both the CPS and DBS to the detriment of the unsuspecting public.

“Thus, new issues and challenges continue to emerge, which place a special responsibility on the regulators, the operators, and other stakeholders to constantly review their operating environment with a view to finding solutions to address the problems,” she said.

The PRA 2014 had strengthened Nigeria’s pension institutions in both the Contributory and Defined Benefits Schemes and imbued them with the capacity to rise above emerging challenges