Leave N20trn Pension Funds Alone, Atiku Tells Federal Gov’t

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Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has warned the federal government not to tamper with Nigeria’s pension funds in its bid to rev up economic growth by unlocking N20 trillion from pension savings to finance critical infrastructure projects across the country.

He described the move as another attempt to perpetrate illegality by the federal government, adding that it must be cautioned to act strictly within the provisions of the Pension Reform Act of 2014 (PRA 2014).

The opposition leader added that the initiative was misguided and could lead to disastrous consequences on the lives of Nigeria’s hardworking men and women who toiled and saved and who now survive on their pensions having retired from service.

The former Vice President, who cautioned against cutting corners to fund infrastructure, said the government must introduce necessary reforms to restore investor confidence in the Nigerian economy.

The federal government, through the coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, Wale Edun, on Tuesday, unveiled a strategic plan to harness the N20 trillion pension fund and other locally available resources for infrastructure development in Nigeria.

The minister disclosed this at the end of the two-day federal executive council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday.

The minister had indicated that “the initiative is expected to attract foreign investment interest over time.”

But, taking to his X handle on Wednesday, Atiku said it was curious that the minister provided no useful details, such as the percentage of the funds to be mopped up from the Pension Funds.

The former VP added, “Even at that, this move must be halted immediately! It is a misguided initiative that could lead to disastrous consequences on the lives of Nigeria’s hardworking men and women who toiled and saved and who now survive on their pensions having retired from service.

“It is another attempt to perpetrate illegality by the Federal Government. The government must be cautioned to act strictly within the provisions of the Pension Reform Act of 2014 (PRA 2014), along with the revised Regulation on Investment of Pension Assets issued by the National Pension Commission (PenCom).

“In particular, the Federal Government must not act contrary to the provisions of the extant Regulation on investment limits to wit: Pension Funds can invest no more than 5% of total pension funds’ assets in infrastructure investments.

“I note that as of December 2023, total pension funds assets were approximately N18 Trillion, of which 75% of these are investments in FGN Securities.

“There is NO free Pension Funds that is more than 5% of the total value of the nation’s pension fund for Mr. Edun to fiddle with.

“There are no easy ways for Mr. Edun to address the challenges of funding infrastructure development in Nigeria. He can’t cut corners.

“He must introduce the necessary reforms to restore investor confidence in the Nigerian economy and to leverage private resources, skills, and technology.”

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