By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has clarified that no official under its employment collects up to N1 million as salary as alleged.
The clarification followed a report claiming that the least paid PenCom employee earns a salary of N3 million per month.
According to the company, “it has become necessary to set the record straight in the interest of the Nigerian public.”
In a press release seen by Business Post, PenCom disregarded the source of information, adding that, “The public is invited to note that the claim is false. The highest-paid official of the commission earns less than N1 million a month. It is, therefore, completely illogical and improbable that the least paid will earn a monthly salary of N3 million.”
According to the pension industry regulator, the news report has fueled all sorts of false allegations and unfair insinuations.
“We understand that there is an element of mischief and possible blackmail on the Commission’s compensation package. From our understanding, it appears someone calculated all staff costs, including training, staff exit benefit scheme, and employer’s pension contribution, and divided the total by the number of the commission’s employees and concluded that the least paid employee is on a monthly salary of N3 million. There is a clear difference between staff cost and staff salaries,” the statement said.
It clarified that since the inception of the commission in 2004, the federal government mandated the board to adopt an employee compensation policy that favourably compares to comparator government bodies in the financial services sector, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Section 25(2)(b) of the Pension Reform Act 2014 also empowers the Board of the Commission to fix the remuneration, allowances, and benefits of the employees.
It advised that the Presidential Committee on the Consolidation of Emoluments in the Public Sector, headed by the late Chief Ernest Shonekan, former Head of the Interim National Government, made some recommendations that guide the PenCom Board in its compensation review exercises.
One recommendation is that “the pay structure of self-funded agencies should be benchmarked with their private sector comparators to ensure relativity in such agencies and attract and retain high-calibre professionals.”
The Shonekan Committee, which former President Olusegun Obasanjo set up in 2005, also recommended that the pay structure of regulatory agencies should be benchmarked against sectors they monitor to avoid regulatory capture and that an annual increase in pay should be undertaken to account for inflation/cost of living adjustment and establishments may strive to attain 50th percentile and above their comparators in the private sector.
PenCom noted that it had made this clear in a recent submission to the House of Representatives Committee on Finance over the compensation package of the Commission.
“We also stated that the last compensation package review was done in 2017 with the approval of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF). No review has been done in the last five years, and this has affected the agency’s ability to attract, hire and retain staff with competitive skills.”
“The public is implored to ignore the false and mischievous information on the staff compensation package. The Commission has nothing to hide and will continue to run a transparent and accountable system,” it hammered.
Senate Threatens to Withhold 2023 Capital Budget of State House, Others
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Senate has threatened to withhold the 2023 capital budget of 100 federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) until they answer the queries raised against them by the Auditor General for the Federation.
Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, issued this threat on the floor of the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday while ruling on a point of order.
The threat followed a point of order raised by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Mr Matthew Urhoghide, who informed his colleagues that some agencies refused to appear before the team despite invitations sent to them.
Some of the MDAs include the State House, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministries of Interior, Transportation, Mines and Solid Mineral Development, Information, Communication, Petroleum, Defence, Police Affairs, and Sports.
Others are Works and Housing, Women Affairs, the State House, Presidential Fleet, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Independent National Electoral Commission, North East Development Commission, Nigerian Intelligence Agency, and the Nigerian Air Force, among others.
The queries covered in the auditor general’s report are from 2015-2018.
Speaking, Mr Lawan upheld Mr Urhoghide’s point of order and insisted that the public officers who utilised funds appropriated to their MDAs must give account.
He said, “Your point of order is sustained fully and completely, totally sustained; you are right on the dot to bring to the plenary your grievances.
“Secondly, I once served as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee for eight years. My only problem is when you write agencies, and they refuse to honour the invite, you’d many times be forced to bring them through a warrant of arrest.
“Reading this list at plenary gives the agencies the opportunity to know now if they were not aware before for those that may claim ignorance.”
The Senate then gave the agencies a one-week deadline to communicate with the committee and set a date to appear before them or have their capital budgets withheld.
“I am taking the opportunity here to advise that in the next one week, if the name of any agency is here, that agency should reach the Committee on Public Accounts of the Senate to sort out when the agency would appear before the committee.
“If there is no communication whatsoever and no cogent and verifiable reason are given, we will slash the agencies’ budget.”
EFCC Auctions 435 Cars in Lagos [Photos]
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
About 435 cars will be auctioned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Lagos between Wednesday, December 7 and Thursday, December 8, 2022.
A statement issued by the commission said this is in line with the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004, Public Procurement Act 2007, and the Proceeds of Crimes (Recovery and Management) Act 2022.
The vehicles are among those forfeited by corrupt persons, and the courts have given the agency the authority to seize them.
The cars, which pictures were conspicuously displayed with allocated lot numbers for public inspection, were allocated to auctioneers based on assessed values and an open ballot system.
The display was to provide an opportunity for interested bidders to view and indicate interest in any car of their choice.
In the statement released today, the EFCC said Nigerians would be able to acquire the cars through auction at 40 Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 15A Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 14 Cameroon Road, Ikoyi Lagos and CVU Obalende, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The nine auctioneers who were allocated to the Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC to dispose of the 435 cars at the designated Centre on 14 Cameron Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, are Rihanna Auction Limited; Kamyus Consult Limited; Areogun Resources Limited; BIS N JEG; Integrated Services Nigeria Ltd; Mau & Sons Ltd; Langar Aghaji & Co; Fagobe Company Ltd and Musa Kira and Co.
At the inspection of the items for sale on Tuesday in Lagos, the Secretary to the Commission and Chairman of EFCC Asset Disposal Committee (ADC), Mr George Ekpungu, said, “the exercise, which is the first of the planned auction of forfeited properties across EFCC Zonal Commands and EFCC headquarters, is being carried out in accordance with the (Establishment) Act, 2004, Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Proceeds of Crimes (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022.
“It is being conducted in conjunction with the Bureau of Public Procurement to ensure compliance with all extant laws.”
While welcoming the auctioneers to the centre, he expressed his gratitude to sister agencies, including the Nigerian Army, who were invited to provide adequate security and ensure orderliness.
Mr Ekpungu also appealed to the members of the public present at the auction to listen carefully to the auctioneers and comply with all stipulated guidelines.
ICPC Confirms Arrest of D’Banj Over N-Power Funds Fraud
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has confirmed the arrest and detention of Mr Oladipo Daniel Oyebanjo, otherwise known by his stage name D’Banj, over an alleged diversion of funds for the N-Power programme.
On Wednesday, it was reported by Premium Times that the entertainer was in the custody of the agency over his link with the inclusion of ghost beneficiaries in the scheme designed by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 to reduce the unemployment rate in Nigeria.
In a statement issued today, ICPC said it began to investigate the musician after receiving “numerous petitions” from concerned persons, alleging D’Banj and some compromised government officials of embezzling “N-Power funds running into billions of naira following the approval and release of such funds to the beneficiaries by the federal government.”
“Many N-Power beneficiaries had complained over the non-receipt of the monthly funds in spite of payment by the government,” another part of the statement released this afternoon said.
According to the commission, it swung into action in line with its mandate of looking into matters of corruption in government initiatives.
“About 10 persons have been invited by the ICPC over the last few months in connection with the N-Power fraud and have been granted administrative bail after their detention.
“Several invitations to Mr Oladipo Daniel Oyebanjo to appear before a team of investigators (over the alleged N-Power funds fraud) were ignored and not honoured,” it further said.
Recall that the N-Power scheme was established by Mr Buhari on June 8, 2016, to address the issues of youth unemployment and empowerment and help increase social development.
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