When the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) offered Mustapha Ajiya a letter of employment in March 2017, his joy knew no bounds. With two months left to assume duty, he resigned from his former job and started making preparations towards starting a new career. Then, Ajiya got a telephone call from the organisation that assumption of the new employees had been postponed indefinitely on the orders of Aisha Dahir-Umar, acting director-general of the organisation.
The news didn’t go down well with the Zamfara indigene. He and his colleagues had written a recruitment test, done interviews and passed through screening processes from December 2016 to January 2017. They were finally employed.
According to his colleagues, when the waiting for assumption seemed endless, Mustapha became emotionally disturbed. Having made several efforts to prevail on the management of PENCOM to address their plight, Mustapha slipped into depression, which took a toll on his health. He died leaving a wife and two children behind.
Mustapha Sadiq, one of the affected recruits, narrated the experience.
“In line with our letter of employment, we were to resume duties on May 2 and 5 June 2017, respectively. However, to our surprise, prior to the date of resumption, we were informed via telephone calls that our resumption had been postponed indefinitely,” he said.
“Note that upon collection of our various letters of employment in March 2017 and the resumption dates stipulated therein, we resigned from our previous places of employment. As such we have been totally unemployed for over one year now. We have been unable to live up to our parental and financial obligations and as a result, we have been subjected to unreasonable psychological trauma.”
Those affected wrote a petition to Acting President Yemi Osibanjo, appealling to him to address the issue which is “fast taking its toll on us”.
In response to another letter written by the affected individuals, the office of the secretary to the government of the federation said the commission’s decision was based on the need to allow a review of the earlier recruitment exercise(s) and to ensure compliance with extant laws and due process.
A staff of PENCOM, however, said the acting DG deliberately misled the SGF as the employment was approved by board of the organisation following a due process in line with section 25 (2) (a) of the Pension Reform Act (2014).
He said, “The truth is that the acting DG is trying to use the same approval earlier given by the former exco and the federal character commission to bring in a different people.
“If they claim that the last batch of appointment was defective, it then means that the two previous batches of appointment were defective because they went through exactly the same due process.”
He added that instead of Dahir-Umar to look into the matter of the new recruit, she increased the severance/terminal benefits of herself and other the senior management staff by a 300 percent.
Peter Aghahowa, spokesman of PENCOM, did not respond to calls and text messages as at the time of filing this report.