President’s Choice for PENCOM DG Divides Senate
By Adedapo Adesanya
President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination for the position of Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) caused a ruckus at the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The President nominated Mrs Oluremi Oyindasola Oni as the Chairman of the pension regulatory agency while Mrs Aisha Umar, who was in an acting capacity, for the Director-General position.
For the Executive Commissioners seats were Mrs Hannatu Musa (North-West), Mr Clement Akintola (South-West), Mr Ayim Nyerere (South-East) and Mr Charles Emukowhale (South-South).
After the Senate President, Mr Ahmed Lawan, read the President’s letter, some senators opposed the nomination of Mrs Umar as the substantive Director-General of the commission on grounds of geopolitical interests.
Serving as their mouthpiece, the Senate Minority Leader, Mr Enyinnaya Abaribe, said that Mrs Umar who is from the North-East region of the country should not have replaced the former DG, Mrs Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, who is from the South-East.
He alleged that Mr Buhari’s action was a breach of the Act that established the agency, citing Section 20(1) and section 21(1) and (2) of the National Pension Commission Act 2014, which said, “In the event of a vacancy, the President shall appoint a replacement from the geopolitical zone of the immediate past member that vacated office to complete the remaining tenure.”
With that, the action of the President goes against the established rule, Mr Abaribe argued, stressing that Mrs Anohu-Amazu’s successor should come from the South-East.
He said, “I recall that the tenure of the incumbent was truncated. Therefore, the new letter from the President that has now moved the chairman of the commission to another zone may not be correct. It is against the law setting up the National Pension Commission and the Federal Character Commission.
“Before you send it to the appropriate committee tomorrow, I wish to draw the attention of the committee to it.”
This was, however, met with opposition from the Senate President, who is also from the North East, saying, “That is for me to interpret because I interpret the laws here. If there is any petition to that effect, it should be sent to the committee.”