Infrastructure: Group tackles Atiku on pension funds investment

Atiku Abubakar

Atiku Abubakar

By Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

A group, Independent Media and Policy Initiative (IMPI), has accused former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of raising false alarm as well as employing manipulative logic and lies in his criticism of the plan by the Federal Government to mobilize pension funds and other private sector funds to finance the development of infrastructure and housing in the country.

The group, in a statement signed by its Chairman Chief Niyi Akinsiju, described criticisms of the plan of the Federal Government to tap into pension funds assets to bridge Nigeria’s huge infrastructure deficit as another of his now routine inclination to raise unfounded alarms riddled with manipulative logic and lies.

IMPI also urged Nigerians to continue to ignore Atiku Abubakar’s politically motivated penchant for downplaying President Tinubu’s plan to set Nigeria on the path of real infrastructural development.

The group added that the former Vice President has shown that he is just out to be perceived as a government critic and opposition leader.

IMPI said: “The extent to which former Vice President Atiku Abubakar will go to confuse and create unnecessary alarm in the public place is disconcerting. This particular statement, like the others he had issued, was another concoction of innuendoes, manipulation of facts and the rendition of law with mischief in mind.

“It is so perplexing because, with the years the former Vice President had spent in public service and his claim to being business-minded, he simply exhibited a crass ignorance of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 and its associated Regulation on Investment of Pension Fund Assets.

“For us, it is either the Vice President is innocently ignorant of the ethos of the Act or he preferred to resort to falsehood in canvassing a halt to the proposition by the Federal Government to unleash new possibilities in infrastructural development in the country with long term funding from pension funds assets.

“In the first instance, Federal Government securities are the most reliable instruments in the capital market because they are issued on the authority and credibility of the Federal Government. The Pension Reform Act acknowledged this in section 86 which itemized possible assets that pension can be invested in starting at 86 (a) to include: ‘Bonds, bills and other securities issued or guaranteed by the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria.’

“This provision is reinforced in Section 5.1 of the Regulation of Investment of Pension Funds which directed that: ‘Pension Fund Assets can be invested in bonds and other securities issued by the Federal Government of Nigeria without any limitation.’

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“This compares to the provision contained in Section 5.2 of the Regulation of Investment of Pension Funds which admonished that: ‘No more than 2.0% of Pension Fund Assets can be invested in bond and debt instruments issued by any one State Government.’

“Section 5.15 which highlighted the investment limits and Performance Benchmarks of pension funds, defined the maximum investment as percentage of pension fund assets, apportioned 100 percent of a pension fund’s assets in Federal Government’s issued securities.

“This translates to indicate that a pension fund administrator can invest its total assets in FG’s issued security.This is because FGN issued securities are considered as the safest of all investments in the domestic debt market. After all, it is backed by the ‘full faith and credit’ of the Federal Government, and as such it is classified as a risk-free debt instrument.

“They have no default risk, meaning that it is certain interest and principal will be paid as and when due. The interest income earned from the securities are also tax-exempt.

“So in light of the above, we wonder at the manner of narrative Atiku intended to sell to the public when, it is apparent that the Tinubu administration is intent on utilizing available long-term funds to provide needed critical infrastructure in the country, which will in turn drive economic growth and social well-being across the country.

“Atiku and his handlers need to be educated on the fact that when eventually the Federal Government decided to tap into the pension funds’ assets for infrastructure development, it would be in the form of FGN-issued securities.

“And for those who may not understand the fraudulent intent in the Atiku position, we invite you to note that the former Vice President indicated in his 2023 campaign manifesto that he would leverage on the N8tn pension fund assets to build Nigeria infrastructure fund if elected President.

“We do not want to believe that the former VP never knew that using pension fund assets to boost infrastructure development was reflected in his manifesto.”

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