BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja
The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) said it has uncovered and removed 50,000 illegal pensioners from its payroll after a 6-year field verification exercise that was conducted across all the geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
The field verification exercises cut across all the operational departments of the directorate, namely: Civil service pension department, Police pension department, Nigeria customs, immigration and prisons pension department, and parastatals pension department.
The aim of the exercise was to ascertain the eligible pensioners under the defined benefit scheme, enroll eligible pensioners who were hitherto not on the directorate’s payroll, while promptly removing the unqualified. The verification exercise took place between 2014 and 2019.
“A major gain of the verification exercise was the reduction of the directorate’s payroll by almost 18 per cent, equivalent to about 50,000 pensioners as a result of removal of ineligible pensioners from the payroll,” executive secretary of PTAD, Dr Chioma Ejikeme, said at a press conference to announce the launch of the pilot phase of the “I Am Alive” confirmation project yesterday.
The “I Am Alive” confirmation solution is a web-based software designed to enable our pensioners to easily confirm their aliveness from the comfort of their homes or neighbourhood, using either a smartphone or a computer system.
The project takes the pensioner through a three-step confirmation process that ends with a text message response.
The executive secretary said PTAD will deploy the application in phases, starting with 50,000 pensioners cut across the four operational departments and the six geo-political zones, selected to participate in this pilot phase. She said the implementation would take effect from October 14.
Dr. Ejikeme said the innovation would change the narrative in pension frauds and put an end to the field verification process which is considered a herculean task for the aged pensioners in the country.
She explained that the verification model was designed with the utmost welfare of pensioners in mind, leveraging on accuracy, reliability, user friendliness and convenience, to enable them easily confirm their aliveness from the comfort of their homes or neighbourhood using either a smartphone or a computer system.
Ejikeme warned pensioners not to divulge their personal identification details to anyone, saying that pensioners’ BVN, ATM card details and ATM card pin are not required for the confirmation process.
She also disclosed that over 20,000 eligible pensioners who were hitherto not on payroll were enrolled, 18,046 pensioners comprising ex-workers of defunct and privatised agencies who had hitherto not been considered for pension have been enrolled. According to her, another 312 war-affected police officers granted amnesty in the year 2000 were paid their arrears and put on our payroll.