By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
Former Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HoS), Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, on Monday described Abdulraheed Maina as the best that ever happened to the Nigeria Pension industry.
Speaking at the ongoing public hearing by the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee investigating the activities of the presidential task force on pensions reforms from 2010 to the time of its dissolution and any other successor agency, he said during his tenure as HoS, he had set up a committee that carried out a comprehensive verification exercise on the number of federal pensioners headed by Abdulraheed Maina, an exercise which uncovered a number of ghost pensioners and slashed the federal government monthly pension liabilities from N1.5 billion to N882 million.
According to him, “In the pension payroll at the time, there was about 106,000 pensioners. After verification, they captured about 70,000 to 71, 000 pensioners. And there was also an additional 50,000 pensioners who had retired many years before, and had not been paid.
“In effect, it meant that we were paying about N1.5 billion when we should have been paying a little over N880 million as regular pension. By the time, the other 50,000 was included, the figure went up just a little over a billion.
“The amount paid was about N882 million, meaning that we had a significant reduction of over N612 million through the Maina led Pension Reform Task Team.
“I didn’t cover any pension office. I retired in November 2010. It was after I left that the team metamorphosed into a presidential pension task force.”
Asked what punitive measures he took against the perpetrators of the pension fraud, the former HoS said he only submitted a report to the then National Security Adviser (NSA) and also redeployed the director who was in charge of pensions in his office.
Oronsaye said: “I didn’t query him. What I did was to remove him from that office.
“Frankly, it was obviously a collusion. If the banks did not collaborate, it wouldn’t have happened. I think it was sufficient to say that since I have found this, it was no longer safe to have you there.”
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Ananyo Nnebe (PDP, Anambra), had last week summoned Maina; former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele; Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami, among others to appear before it to say what they know about the alleged scam.
But, only the former HoS had turned up.
Nevertheless, Nnebe urged all invited stakeholders to appear next Wednesday which is the next adjourned date of the probe.
He said: “We are giving them a second chance next Wednesday to be here by 1 p.m. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt.”