The Nigerian condition is amazing. Someone with experience in government said to me, today, that many of the retirees protesting today did not protest when the system was fleecing and killing older retirees before them. He said many of the retirees and their unions knew that the retirement funds were being diverted and stolen but did nothing.
All ministries across the country, have for decades and are until today, actively engaged in these nefarious acts. Yet the workers and executives keep quiet or join the splurge. Many did more private business when they were in office and did not worry about their future which they thought would be always rosy with investments and assets. But the economy is biting. Liquidating assets is hard. Now they are wailing.
They did not wail for those who, before them, died in long queues waiting for peanut pensions, already looted, to be paid to them. Nigerians should continue with their code of silence and collusion even as they trade off their future.
Even then I support the pensioners' protest in Benin. Not all of them stole or diverted pension money. But that is not why I support the protest. It is because I hope that such protests will bring the issue to a head and force effective policy and positive action in pension management.
Now let's look at some pension fraud stories in the past few years to put the roguery in sharp relief:
•Pension: EFCC Arrest Suspended DG, Others For N2.5bn Fraud
The EFCC has arrested the suspended Director-General, of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, Nelly Mayshak, and three others, Yoab Youssoufou, Patricia Iyogun, and Ruth Imonikhe for a N2.5bn fraud. PTAD is an independent pension agency established in August 2013 to oversee the management of pensions under the Defined Benefit Scheme for pensioners not transiting to the defined contributory scheme. - Punchng, April 20, 2016.
• Reps Probe Alleged N200b Pension Fraud
The probe is to investigate activities of the Presidential Task Force on Pensions Reforms from 2010 to the time it was disbanded in February, 2013.
- The Guardian, April 5, 2017
• EFCC Grills Oronsaye, former Head of Service Over Alleged N6 billion Fraud.
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives have questioned Steve Oronsaye, former head of the Civil Service of the Federation, for alleged N6.2billion pension scam during his tenure. About N5billion in bogus contracts were allegedly awarded and payments made between January 2009 and November 2010 while Oronsaye was in office. The scandal was uncovered in the Pension Unit of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF). - nigeriacommunicationsweek.com, December 16, 2013
• N32.8 Billion Police Pension Scam
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has expressed reservation about the ruling of an FCT High Court, Abuja which handed a six year jail term with the option of N750, 000 fine to John Yakubu Yusufu, one of the six persons standing trial in the N32.8billion Police Pension scam. The other accused person were Esai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs. Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira.
- EFCC, Media & Publicity Unit. January 29, 2013.
Now if you are not overawed, if you thought that all these reports will lead to effective policy changes in public pensions management, you are daydreaming. I challenge every single ministry, parastatal, agency of government at all levels, across the country, to publish their pensions funds balances in the past two decades. I wager my last kobo that none will dare publish the reports. Across board, for decades, from federal to state governments, from the presidency, to the ministries, to the parliaments to the local governments, pensions fraud is a grand scale multi trillion Naira bazaar with workers and workers' unions in collusion up until today.
Perhaps if the hard hit pensioners across the country, like their counterparts in Benin City, go on massive protests and paralyze their states, something will give. Perhaps the fraud will stop. Perhaps the old, weak and wizened folks will be spared untimely deaths and allowed dignity and decency in their twilight years.
Give a thought to the millions of the aged, across the country, who are dying or have died in queues for their pensions, who died in abject penury, who died because they had no money to pay for medical treatment, who died of shock that idiots in power can so blatantly deny them their entitlements for their labours past. Think also of the perpetrators, their silent and not very silent collaborators plus the churches that collect humongous crooked monies from these rogues and the mass murders they are guilty of. How do these people go to bed and sleep when they know that rivers of the blood of the folks they sent to early and horrible deaths are on their heads and their future generations?