PTAD@ 10: Keeping Nigeria pensioners happy and alive
By Ismail Abdulaziz, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
The Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS) administration under the old pension offices faced overwhelming challenges that include accumulation of a number of negative incidents and inactions on the part of the old pension offices that resulted in the absence of a comprehensive database of pensioners, reports of ghost beneficiaries, allegations of pervasive fraud, administrative bottlenecks in accessing pension services, poor funding of pension liabilities, as well as poor delivery of service to pensioners.
For many years, these challenges led to huge losses in government funds and ultimately denied many pensioners their pension benefits for decades. For some unfortunate pensioners, the pursuit of the payment of their entitlements cost them their lives.
These were the scenario that Nigerian pensioners faced before the establishment of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) in August 2013 in compliance with the Pension Reform Act (PRA) of 2004, which was repealed and re-enacted in the PRA 2014.
At a South-East stakeholders engagement forum held in Awka for Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo states, the Executive Secretary of PTAD, Dr Chioma Ejikeme, said that the event was periodically organised to meet and interact with pensioners and other Stakeholders in all the geopolitical zones of the country.
‘’At the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, we are aware of the importance of carrying our pensioners and stakeholders along in what we do; and this is why we organize this kind of forum to interact with you, keep you updated on our activities as well as our future plans, and most importantly, get your feedback.
‘’PTAD’s determination to change the narrative as far as pension administration under the Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS) in Nigeria is concerned is irrevocable. It is pertinent to note that PTAD has intentionally and consistently been working on achieving positive and sustainable change in the DBS Pension management for the almost 10 years of its operation. It is worthy to mention that PTAD would be 10 by August of 2023,’’ she said.
Analysts have said that the processes and controls that have been put in place since the establishment of PTAD have contributed immensely to the change being witnessed today in the management of the Defined Benefit Pension scheme.
‘’Our journey from field verifications, mobile verifications, to putting together a solid database of pensioners, benefit computation, ensuring the regular payment of monthly pensions and paying long overdue pension arrears to pensioners, has been a progressive one filled with creativity, dedication, commitment, persistence and resulting in milestone achievements. It is not yet a perfect situation, but PTAD is committed to continuing to make giant strides.’’
In the last 12 months, PTAD has engaged in some major initiatives to improve on the overall welfare of Nigerian pensioners.
Complete payment of arrears arising as a result of the consequential adjustment to pensions as a result of the increase in minimum wage of April 2019 to the four operational departments in the Directorate.
Complete liquidation of the 126 months outstanding liabilities due to ex-workers of Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation Complete payment of the 219 months of inherited liabilities to Ex-workers of New Nigeria Newspaper Limited
Complete payment of the 100 months of inherited liabilities to Ex-workers of NICON Insurance Complete payment of the 96 months of inherited liabilities to Ex-workers of Delta Steel Company (DSC)
Implemented the 9.7% increment to Ex-PHCN workers with attendant arrears paid.
Payment of a total of 48 months of the 84 months inherited arrears owed NITEL/MTEL pensioners, leaving a balance of 36 months for complete liquidation. With these payments, we are glad to inform you that PTAD has completely liquidated the inherited unfunded liabilities of all the Defunct/Privatized Agencies handed over to PTAD in 2017, with the exception of NITEL/MTEL with a balance of 36 months, which we are fully committed to liquidating.
‘’Recently, we also commissioned a Mechanized filing system, put in place to safely store pensioners’ physical verification and departmental files. Apart from securing and archiving these documents, this device will make it faster and easier to recall pensioners’ files to reconcile and resolve any complaint.
‘’You may recall that on the 12th of October 2021, PTAD launched the “I AM Alive” Confirmation Solution and successfully completed the Pilot Phase where we tested the application on 50,000 randomly-selected pensioners from the four (4) Operational Departments and the six (6) Geo-political zones. Following the success of the Pilot Phase, on the 14th of April 2023, PTAD fully rolled out the solution for the use of our Pensioners.
However, to ensure an efficient and effective delivery, and prevent a heavy flow of traffic on the website, we have staggered the use of the Confirmation Solution according to departments as follows:
|S/N||Department||Start Date||End Date|
|1.||Police Pensioners||14th April, 2023||13th October, 2023|
|2.||Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pensioners||1st June, 2023||31st December, 2023|
|3.||Civil Service Pensioners||1st July, 2023||31st January, 2024|
|4.||Parastatals Pensioners||1st August, 2023||28th February, 2024|
Similarly, PTAD has provided a six-month grace period for each department and their pensioners to complete their “I Am Alive” Confirmation (IAAC) Solution and trained Pension Desk Officers from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies for pensioners retired from organisations, as well as the various Representatives of Pension Unions on the use of this application, this is in order to assist pensioners who are unable to carry out the confirmation on their own.
So far, three operational departments, namely: Police Pension Department, Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pension Department, and the Civil Service Pension Department have commenced their Confirmation process, and the reports have been encouraging.
‘’On this note, may I commend the Pension Union Executives who have disseminated information about the I Am Alive Confirmation Solution to their members and have provided assistance to those who need help with confirming their aliveness.
‘’However, more needs to be done and we plead that you help us spread this message to all the nooks and crannies of the Zone and beyond. No pensioner who is alive should be left out of this very critical and important exercise that would determine a pensioner’s eligibility to continue to receive pension.
‘’As part of our resolve to ensure that no eligible pensioner is left out, PTAD wishes to inform all our pensioners in the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom, that a Survey is being carried out by the Directorate to ascertain the number of pensioners we have in these countries and their various locations within the countries.
‘’We have a good number of unverified pensioners in these locations. The information gathered during the survey will enable us plan accordingly for Diaspora verification. I therefore enjoin you to inform your members who are living in these countries to visit the PTAD website and take part in the survey. It is very important. They should log on to our website – www.ptad.gov.ng to access the link for the survey.
‘’Furthermore, as we did with the Civil Service Pensioners, PTAD is currently carrying out the re-computation exercise on thousands of files in the Parastatals Pension Department, with a view to resolving their deluge of complaints.
We have held meetings with representatives of Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners Association of Nigeria (FEPPAN), The Electricity Sector Retiree Welfare Association (ESREWA), and Concerned Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) pensioners to inform them of the outcome of the Back-End Computation Project carried out for the defunct PHCN pensioners under PTAD.
‘’At the end of the meetings, all the parties agreed that the implementation of the outcome should take effect from June 2023 payroll, which we have done. Some of you may have noticed an increase or a decrease in your pension, which means you were either being overpaid or underpaid, and the Computation project has placed your pension where it rightfully belongs.’’
The project is ongoing and representatives have been informed of the Back-End Computation Project for the Power, and Transport Sectors that it will be implemented this July 2023.
The PTAD boss also expressed confidence that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, given his well-known and commendable antecedents in pension matters, would continue to make pension payment a first-line charge, albeit unwritten, adding that ‘’this we have already started witnessing with the continued prompt payment of monthly pensions to our esteemed pensioners. We cannot afford to go back to the time when the DBS pensioners were owed months of pension arrears and their needs pushed to the back-burner’’.
She also used the stakeholders’ forum to warn pensioners against patronizing pension fraudsters.
‘’They seem to have kicked off their activities again as we are beginning to get reports of pensioners being called by people pretending to be PTAD Staff and soliciting funds from pensioners to enable their entitlements be paid.
‘’No staff of PTAD will call or send any message to you requesting for payment or ask you to call a certain phone number before your arrears or gratuity will be paid. Once you get such messages, you should know that PTAD did not send them and will never do so. Kindly share this important information with your members so they do not fall victim to these fraudsters.’’
The introduction of the ‘I Am Alive’ confirmation solution is another platform that would enable pensioners in the Defined Benefits Scheme to access the full potential of the PTAD services wherever they are and eliminate the challenges faced in the process of getting their pension entitlements.
***If used, credit the writer and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)