Thursday , 23 September 2021
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Oronsaye’s 70,000 Ghost Pensioners

Since last week, a former head of service of the federation, Mr Stephen Oronsaye, has been busy denying allegations that he embezzled N123billion from pension funds while he held that office. In refuting these allegations, he claimed that he did the nation a favour when, during his tenure, he discovered 70,000 fake and ghost pensioners. Oronsaye also claimed that because of his due diligence, he was able to save for the nation N1billion every month. In apparent self-adulation, the former head of service said that 34,432 pensioners were enrolled and paid their pensions as well as arrears of their harmonised pension.

It is becoming obvious, in our view, that the last has not been heard about the looting done by managers of the nation’s pension funds. Nigerians have not forgotten how a mere assistant director in the nation’s Civil Service, put in charge of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, fled the country to evade arrest over unspecified billions of missing pension money. In one ridiculous episode of the looted pension scheme saga, a certain John Yakubu Yusuf accepted publicly that he had stolen N23.1billion from the Police pension fund. Curiously, when arraigned and tried in court, he was given a mere slap on the wrist when the trial judge fined him a paltry N750, 000, which he paid immediately. And now the ‘golden boy’ of the Civil Service, Oronsaye, is striving hard to explain to Nigerians how N123billion pension money grew wings and flew before his very eyes. With this millstone around his neck, as soon as he left office and as if to compensate him for a ‘job well done’, he was appointed to the board of the nation’s cash cow, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

We urge Oronsaye to come clean on this, because there is a limit to the level of corruption that any nation can live with. N123billion, even by Nigerian standards, is a lot of money to go missing and must not be written off just like that.

While all this malfeasance is going on, Nigerians who gave their best years to the service of the nation expecting to have a settled retirement are dying in their numbers, heartbroken and in penury.

What is intriguing in all this, in our opinion, is that the security agencies are looking on helplessly. The police could not do anything about the thieves who stole their funds. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been too weakened by internal corruption to live up to the expectations and demands of Nigerians. There are hushed views in informed circles in the country that why people are getting away with all these scams is because part of the money went into funding the political campaigns of President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Jonathan can clean up this mess by asking Oronsaye and others to explain what is going on.

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