Revelations have emerged of how the suspended director general of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Mrs Nellie Mayshak, ran the agency as a sole administrator, without a board to supervise the agency’s operations.
The DG who is been investigated for issues bordering on violation of some sections of the Pension Act 2014, employment without due process, and financial mismanagement among other things.
The Federal Ministry of Finance, in a statement on Friday, confirmed the indefinite suspension of Mayshak, and three other senior staff of the directorate.
The statement said that Mayshak was suspended over alleged mismanagement of funds.
“The suspension which is a normal civil service procedure is to pave way for an unimpeded investigation into the activities of the directorate under the watch of Mayshak,” the statement said.
A source within the agency said that whereas the Pension Act 2004 provided for the establishment of PTAD and in the amended Act, Pension Reform Act 2014, Section 42 and 43 amended the name slightly and provided for the headship of PTAD to be an Executive Secretary, when Mayshak was appointed, it was as Director-general, in violation of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014 (43).
The source further alleged that in violation of the Act, PTAD unlike other federal government agencies never had a board, thus allowing the now suspended director general who was also the pioneer head of PTAD, free hand to operate.
It was also gathered that whereas the PRA (2014) 42(3) provided for representatives of the Civil Service Pension Department, Police Pension Department and Customs, Immigration and Prisons Department; they are not represented in the agency.
“This singular act is a breach of the Parliament Act and amounts to wilful negligence which is tantamount to gross misconduct according to the Public Service Rules (PSR). Does this singular Act not a breach of the parliament? In the Public Service Rules (PSR) does this not amount to wilful negligence and tantamount to misconduct if not gross misconduct?” the source stated.
It was also alleged that employment at PTAD at inception was skewed in favour of acolytes of the agency head and children of senior government officials, hence fencing out others, including former staff of the pension office.
Sources within the agency revealed that at the inception of PTAD, the agency allegedly conducted a Computer Based Test (CBT) in conjunction with a recruitment outfit for recommended representatives of the former pension office since in their wisdom, they deemed it fit not to inherit all staff of the former pension office in line with the Head of Service circular Ref. No. 63903/S105/T/1/68 of 30th October, 2013 establishing PTAD, which directed that all assets and liabilities of the former pension offices be inherited by PTAD.
“As if that was not enough breach, PTAD conducted a recruitment exercise in November 2014 through February 2015 and threw over 95 per cent of the inherited civil servants out but regularised the appointment of preferred/anointed candidates of the high and mighty in Nigeria, particularly those that were earlier engaged on contract terms irrespective of the interview and also engaged a few more anointed candidates.
“The recruitment exercise did not follow laid down procedure. Candidates that should have been given contract appointment were offered permanent appointment. It is both ironical and paradoxical that in the interview conducted, over 95 per cent of the civil servants that participated in the recruitment exercise failed while 100 per cent of the contract staff all passed the so called test. This is obviously questionable and I stand to be corrected or proved wrong that the above is both deliberate and a calculated attempt at expunging inherited civil servants from PTAD,” the source added.
On the issue of emoluments, it was alleged that apart from approving N60 million monthly salary for herself, Mayshak in connivance with top officials of the ministry of finance at the time, including a former minister, recommended an outrageous salary structure that was merely ratified by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC).
While pointing out that it is true that staff of PTAD need to be encouraged and motivated by way of enhanced salary to prevent being lured into committing fraudulent acts, it ought to be benchmarked against the existing salary structure in the Federal Public Service since PTAD draws its funding from the Federal Treasury and does not generate any income.
“How can one explain this scenario where a fresh graduate staff on GL 08 is paid a huge N300,000 monthly allowance, more than a full fledge Director in the main-stream Civil Service that is at the verge of retirement? This calls for concern,” he added.
The source added that PTAD did not get a waiver to carry out the recruitments it did, in violation of extant civil service regulations, just as the provisions of the Procurement Act was grossly violated in the award of most contracts in PTAD.
“Arbitrariness in general spending and misappropriation of funds is a ‘house-hold’ name in PTAD. For instance renovation/painting of a rented property belonging to a then sitting minister was carried out three times in a year. Consider the huge cost to rent the property when there is vacant accommodation in the Federal Secretariat and other government buildings in the FCT.
How can you explain feeding one pensioner with N4, 500 during the police pensioners verification exercise? How can the setting aside of as much as N9.5 million for security and contingencies in verification of reimbursement claims to Ekiti State be explained?” the source queried.
The suspended DG was also alleged to have applied for and received N36 million in December 2014 as allowances for staff who worked overtime but failed to pay the affected staff.
Efforts to speaks with the PTAD spokesperson, Mrs Theodora Amaechi, on the allegations were unsuccessful as severe calls to her mobile phone number were not answered.
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