The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole has told the president Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to leave pension funds alone.
Oshiomhole who spoke on Wednesday at the opening of a presidential policy dialogue at the presidential villa, Abuja said pension funds were meant to cater for workers welfare and not to fund budget deficits.
He said, “The logic behind introducing the pension scheme under PENCOM, was that the workers social capital that they deducted every month which they would not need to draw on until they retire about 30 years or 35 years later, provide a basis for long term fund.
“Happily, PENCOM has generated over five to six trillion Naira since it commenced operation. Unfortunately, the money is borrowed by the government both federal and state and unfortunately it is not available to address the social purpose of the working people whose contributions the pension fund evolved.
“I asked our expert to recognise that the primary purpose of the workers social capital is that it would be creatively managed and deployed to workers social needs including housing, education and all the other factors.
“It wasn’t meant to fund the government’s deficit, it wasn’t meant to support the federal government deficit, it was meant to address the primary social purpose of those who work. So that they are sure that by the time they finished their employment that they are retired, they have a modest home to retire to.
“I think we must visit these issues, address them because this president if he has opposition, it is among the rich, if he has supporters it is among the poor. The poor people’s money must be used to address the critical challenges of the poor.
“May God drive our thoughts, our processes and rejig everything so that at the end of the day, those people would say yes sai baba! We elected him, we trusted him and he has delivered”.
The former Edo state governor also called for the rejigging of the current security infrastructure adding that it has failed to tackle insecurity in the country.
“On security, crimes and criminalities are taking new forms as we have witnessed in armed banditry, they are not new but it’s just that they are still there.
“Kidnapping has been in Nigeria even before we were elected in 2015 but we still have cases of kidnapping.
“Farmers/herders crisis still occur from time to time. They have been there before 2015 but we have to admit that it is still there and we have a duty to find a comprehensive and holistic solution to it. And of course, we still have our own fair share of arm robbery in various parts of the country.”
“The need to rejig the security apparatus and operational use of community policing which is already being discussed but I think we need to go into the specifics on the issue of how. Because every minute, every second, time is going.
“As a party founded on the philosophy of social democracy, we need to expand programmes that touch the lives of people in areas such as the social housing, social investment programme, access to public healthcare, access to public education and support to small scale industries” he said.
Speaking on corruption, Oshiomhole gave the administration a pass mark but they it should also focus on prevention.
He said, “On anti-corruption, I believe that we can commendably beat our chests as to the extent to which we have gone in implementing our anti-corruption war but there’s a need to ensure that our range of actions covers prevention, that is system, involvement of the Nigerian citizens, the society, and the prosecution of offenders.
“There are many who have said that we should not just pursue corruption, we should deal with how to even prevent it.
“Many wondered how a salary earner who desires to have a house but is paid in 30 days interval where they are paid regularly and he earns a million a month that is even to put the number generously, how can he own a house if a house cost as much as 10 million Naira?
“Everywhere in the world people have access to credit and that credit does two things – because you have borrowed, and you know if you don’t work the house would be taken from you. We can’t continue with a system where you have to have twenty million, fifty million or even a hundred million to be able to build a house.
“The banking system is not delivering to the ordinary people. Access to credit remains a major issue.”
Continuing, he said: “So, we do need to review all of these so that in dealing with corruption, we deal with the preventive part. This retreat should critically review our achievements in the first term and map out a strategy for the second term.”
Buhari who gave the opening remarks said the dialogue was convened to explore ways to consolidate on the first term achievements of his administration. He claimed that his administration delivered on economic growth in the first term.
He said,“We have witnessed eight quarters of consistent marginal growth of the economy over the past two and a half years.
“We have made progress in the agricultural sector, especially in food production and processing through our Food Security and Anchors Borrowers Programmes, which provide concessionary credit facilities to farmers in crop production as well as large-scale investors in food processing and manufacturing.
“To consolidate on these and other successes, we will continue to provide incentives that will facilitate investments and create jobs in key import substitution programmes.
“In line with the ‘Next Level Strategy’ of our party, the All Progressives Congress, which seeks to consolidate on our achievements over the past four years, this policy dialogue session has been conceived to:
“Advise the government over the next four years to deliver on our promises in a manner that reflects true changes to the livelihood of the people.
“Discuss and propose for Federal Government’s approval, key strategies and high impact initiatives to stimulate economic growth and development
“This concerted effort requires the convergence of various stakeholders cutting across the private sector, developmental partners and industry experts to dialogue and forge a way forward.