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•Charges pensioners to engage 2023 election contestants on pension payment

THE Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has showered encomium on President Muhammadu Buhari for prioritising pensioners’ welfare and making pension payment of the Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS) an “un-written” first line charge from the inception of his administration till date.

PTAD went on to say that President Buhari’s favourable policy stand on prompt payment of DBS pensioners’ monthly pension and the inclined resolve of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and other stakeholders to implementing the President’s policy on pension matters, are the bedrock of the many successes the Directorate has achieved within the period of its existence.

The Executive Secretary of PTAD, Dr Chioma Ejikeme said this in her opening remark in Calabar at the South-South Stakeholders’ Engagement Forum organised by PTAD.

Dr Ejikeme noted that the pension agency is passionately working hard and changing the narrative in the management and administration of DBS pension all of which has been made possible because of the trickled commitment of the President, Minister of Finance and others.

She told the stakeholders that within the short period of their last meeting, PTAD has made landmark achievements. “Since our last stakeholders’ forum for the South-South region held in Uyo, PTAD has carried out series of activities.”

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She listed the achievements to include, “Completion of the 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 per cent increment to ex-PHCN workers with attendant arrears paid; part-payment of the arrears owed NITEL/MTEL pensioners. Two weeks ago, we paid another 15-month arrears to 5,907 pensioners out of the outstanding 63 months of the inherited unfunded pension liabilities. The remaining half of the NITEL/MTEL will get their 15-months arrears’ payment soon.

“Through the unwavering support of President Muhammadu Buhari, PTAD has completely liquidated the inherited unfunded liabilities of all the defunct/privatised agencies handed over to us, with NITEL/MTEL, which we are fully committed to liquidating.”

She also reiterate that following the launch of the “I Am Alive” confirmation solution and  the successful completion of the pilot phase where the agency tested the application on 50,000 randomly selected pensioners from the four operational departments and the six geo-political zones, PTAD is ready for the full rollout of the solution.

The PTAD boss further stressed the agency’s resolve to make the process as seamless as possible for pensioners. “PTAD has trained the Pension Desk Officers of the various institutions and organisations where our pensioners retired from, as well as pension union executives from the six geopolitical zones on the solution.

“The training is to enable them to assist pensioners who are unable to carry out the “I Am Alive” confirmation on their own.

“The commitment of PTAD towards the welfare of our pensioners remains sacrosanct, and we shall continue our meetings and engagement with the various unions to ensure quality service delivery.

“PTAD is grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari who since the inception of his administration has made pensions an un-written first line charge, to our able supervisory Minister, Dr Zainab Ahmed, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and all our other major stakeholders who have made the modest successes achieved by PTAD possible,” she added.

Dr Ejikeme further charged pensioners across the country to engage politicians vying for various positions in the 2023 general election and find out their intentions towards their welfare.

She noted that pensioners have a duty to help elect a president that wouldnot reverse the exemplary trend of prioritisation of prompt payment of pensions currently enjoined under President Buhari’s administration.

She said, “As we enter the campaign and election season, it is pertinent that pensioners should engage the0 contestants at the federal and state levels to find out their position or antecedents in pension management and get a firm commitment from them regarding the welfare of pensioners.

“The need to have a president who listens to the needs of pensioners cannot be  overemphasised. 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

“We sincerely hope that the next administration, whoever emerges as the President will be as favourably disposed towards the pensioners of the Defined Benefit Scheme as the administration of President Muhammadu has been.”

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