Abaribe, other senators reject Buhari’s PENCOM DG nominee from north-east, accuse president of nepotism

Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, and some of his colleagues have rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination for the position of director-general (DG) of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM).
Buhari had nominated Aisha Umar from the north-east to replace the former DG of PENCOM, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, from South East.

There was a row at the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday when Senate President Ahmad Lawan read a letter by President Muhammadu Buhari seeking the confirmation of Umar, who is from the north-east, as the PENCOM DG.

The president also appointed Oyindasola Oni as chairman of the commission.

Hannatu Musa (north-west); Clement Oyedele Akintola (south-west); Ayim C. Nyerere (south-east); and Charles Efe Sylvester Emukowhale (south-south) were appointed as commissioners of the agency.

Enyinnaya Abaribe, senate minority leader, said the nomination was in breach of the law setting up the commission and of the federal character principle.

Abaribe said section 20(1), section 21(1) and (2) of PENCOM Act stipulate that a DG must be appointed from the same zone as the past DG to complete an outstanding tenure.

“In the event of a vacancy, the president shall appoint a replacement from the geo-political zone of the immediate past member that vacated office to complete the remaining tenure,” the minority leader quoted the PENCOM law as saying.

“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 because it is against the law setting up the PENCOM.

“Before you (Lawan) send it to the appropriate committee, I wish to draw the attention of the committee to it.”

But responding, Lawan said any petition against the nomination of Aisha Umar should be sent to the committee in charge of screening the nominee.

“If there is any petition to that effect it should be sent to the committee,” the senate president said.

A Senator from the North-Central, however, told Punch Newspaper that the lawmakers across party divides were opposed to the contravention of the Act by Buhari.

The lawmaker revealed that the opposition to the nomination of Aisha Umar cuts across the south east, southwest and the North central.

The senator recalled that move by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to push for the nomination of Funsho Doherty from the south west as successor to Mrs Anohu -Amazu as the PENCOM DG was frustrated by a certain cabal in the Presidency.

“Professor Osinbajo, as acting President could not push it through,” he said.

“They threatened him with impeachment and used the lawmakers from the North to block him, citing provisions of the same Pension Act.”

The lawmaker accused the President of the Senate, Lawan, of being a willing tool in the hands of the Presidency in its agenda of promoting the interest of a particular section of the country which he noted was contrary to the Federal Character Principle entrenched in the Constitution.

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