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PTAD task journalists on credible reportage of pension industry

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*Says over 5,000 pensioners so far enrolled in ‘I’Am Alive platform’

PHILIP CLEMENT, ABUJA

The Executive Secretary of The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Dr Chioma Ejikeme, has charged journalists to ensure accurate and reliable reportage of the pension.

The PTAD ES gave the charge in her address at a capacity building training for pension correspondents in Abuja on Thursday.

Ejikeme, who was represented by Mr. Abdallah Abubakar, (Director, Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pension Department)

She said that the workshop is to adequately inform the pension correspondents about the Act establishing PTAD, mandate, the different operational departments in the directorate.

‘’It is very important, as reporters, to understand where we are coming from, and what exactly we do, so you can fully appreciate where we are and report accurately.

‘’Pension management in Nigeria is a very sensitive issue, and PTAD has been at the forefront since inception, ensuring that the welfare of pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme remains a priority.

‘’As our partner in progress, we rely on the media, especially our reporters, to work with us to ensure that this mandate is fulfilled. It is our intention to foster the already-robust relationship between PTAD and the Media, correct all misrepresentations and inform them of next steps we intend to take as we work hard to ensure that the welfare of our pensioners is sustained,’’ Ejikeme said.

In a presentation, the Deputy Director of Parastatals, Pension Department (PaPD)of PTAD, Yusuf Umar, said that the Federal Government still owes over N90.1 billion pension inherited unfunded liabilities to redundant agencies and parastatals.

He said that the outstanding reveals that the defunct Nigeria Telecommunications Nitel/Mtel has the largest with N73bln unfunded liability which translates to 81 per cent.

Umar said that others where Delta steel N7. 9 billion, NICON Insurance N4. 9 billion and New Nigeria Newspaper N2. 9 billion adding that there are currently 92,373 pensioners drawn from 265 agencies under the PaPD.

He said that the amount remains a concern for the directorate, several engagements were ongoing to sort the funds and offset the liability.

‘’This has continued to be an issue for the Directorate, further discussions are ongoing with the government. So far a lot of progress has been made in this direction,‘’ Umar said..

Also in his presentation, the Director, Corporate Services Department, Mr. Sani Mustapha said with the establishment, the age long complaints concerning delay in pensions payment has become a thing of the past.

He said “With the establishment of PTAD, there has been reduction of pension complaints especially irregular payments of federal pensions.

“The Directorate has committed to the welfare of Pensioners to ensure that they get their entitlements as at when due under the Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS).

He assured that PTAD will continue to hold capacity building workshop for journalists to widen their horizon and understanding of the Defined Benefits Scheme and the entire pension sector.

Also, the Deputy Director of Pension Support Services Department (PSSD), Mrs Amina Abdullahi, speaking on the ‘’I AM ALIVE CONFIRMATION’’, explained that the web-based solution is to confirm that pensioners’ are alive.

According to her, the initiative is a web-based solution to confirm the “aliveness” of verified pensioners on PTAD Monthly Pension Payroll, so that they can continue to receive a monthly pension.

“Web-based solution” simply means that it can be accessed either with a computer or a phone
‘’Pensioners can access the ‘I AM ALIVE CONFIRMATION’ application from their homes or residential locations, without the need to go to the PTAD Office,’’ she said.

Stating the benefits, she said that the application is convenient, easily accessible, secures authentication, takes short time, saves cost and allows PTAD periodically to update the pensioners’ database.

PTAD said its recently launched web-based verification platform for retirees under the Defined Benefit Scheme, codenamed ‘I Am Alive’, has received over 7,000 hit attempts for verification, with 5,010 successful.

Also, the directorate said 55 per cent of those who were successful did so through facial recognition, while 45 per cent did it by fingerprint.
The use of the digital verification exercise was launched last month to ease the process of future validation of pensioners on our payroll and was still at the testing phase.

Similarly, the Deputy Director Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pension Department (CIPPD), Bilkisu Rimi said the mandate of the department is to ensure regular payment of benefits and pensions to retirees upon statutory retirement at the age of 60yrs or 35yrs of Service.

Throwing more light on the computation processes, she said “All Pensioner’s gratuity and monthly pensions are computed using approved charts from National Salary, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) putting into consideration their grade level and step as at the date of retirement,”

She added that for computation process, PTAD uses the Unified Paramilitary Salary Structure (UPSS), Harmonized Paramilitary Salary Structure (HAPPSS) and the Consolidated Paramilitary Salary Structure (CONPASS).

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Chuka Francis

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