Fresh appointments to fill vacancies in the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) created uproar on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.
Senators across party divides were upset immediately Senate President Ahmad Lawan read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari announcing the nomination of Aisha Umar as the director general of PENCOM.
They alleged that the appointment breached the Federal character principle.
The letter equally announced Oyindasola Oni as nominee for the office of Chairman of the PENCOM.
Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe had risen to protest the appointment in which Aisha Umar, a nominee from the North East, was picked to replace, the former Director-General (DG) of PENCOM, Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, from South East.
He described the nomination as a flagrant breach of the Act establishing the PENCOM.
Abaribe pointed out that by the provisions of Section 20(1) and section 21(1) and (2) of the National Pension Commission Act 2014, “in the event of a vacancy, the President shall appoint replacement from the geo-political zone of the immediate past member that vacated office to complete the remaining tenure.”
Senator Abaribe maintained that the replacement for Mrs Anohu -Amazu must come from the South East.
“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 National Pension Commission,” Abaribe said.
“Before you (Senate President) send it to the appropriate committee, I wish to draw the attention of the committee to it.”
In his response, Senator Lawan rebuffed Senator Abaribe’s point of order and observation.
“If there is any petition to that effect it should be sent to the committee,” he said.
It was later found out that senators across party divides are set to resist the nomination of Aisha Umar as DG of PENCOM.
One of the lawmakers who pleaded not to be named revealed that the opposition to the contravention of the act establishing the National Pension Commission cuts across the south east, southwest and the North central.
“We are set to meet tonight (Tuesday) to harmonise our positions,” the lawmaker said.
The lawmaker recalled that move by Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to push for the nomination of Mr. Funsho Doherty from the south west as successor to Mrs Anohu -Amazu as the Director-General of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) was frustrated in the past.
“Professor Osinbajo, as acting President could not push it through.
“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 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.