…Commences ‘I am Alive Confirmation’
By Ogochukwu Nwaokafor
The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate has guaranteed pensioners in Nigeria of an improved welfare and access to health insurance benefit.
The Directorate equally introduced what it called the ”I am Alive Confirmation” Platform where pensioners will have to register in order to access those benefits while plans are underway to open up more offices in the country, Fides reports.
The Executive Secretary, Dr. Chioma Ejikeme, disclosed this as part of PTAD’s future plans during the 2023 two-day event that was held in Awka, Anambra State, recently, with its mission to achieve stakeholder satisfaction through the delivery of exceptional pension services.
Speaking during the address of welcome, Dr. Ejikeme said that among the future plans of PTAD were harmonization of pensions to enable pensioners who retired on the same grade level and step under the same organization at different years to earn a unified pension for equality and implementation of five yearly pension.
Noting that the stakeholder-engagement forum was organized periodically to meet and interact with pensioners and stakeholders in all the geopolitical zones of the country to keep them updated on its activities, future plans, and most importantly, get their feedback.
‘The welfare of pensioners remains sacrosanct and they shall continue their meetings and engagement with the various pension unions to ensure quality service delivery.
‘PTAD launched “I AM ALIVE” Confirmation solution for database cleanup on April 2023. So far, 50,553 pensioners have been confirmed “ALIVE”. We have provided a six month grace period for each department and their pensioners to complete their “I Am ALIVE” confirmation solution as three operational departments, namely, Police Pension Department, Customs Immigration and Prisons Pension Department, have commended their confirmation process,’ she said.
She added that all pensioners in Diaspora were not left out as a survey was being carried out by the directorate to ascertain the number of pensioners in the country and various locations. The information gathered, according to her, would enable PTAD to plan accordingly for diaspora’s verification.
Dr Ejikeme further appealed that ‘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. We are confident that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will continue to make pension payment a first-line charge, this we have already started witnessing with the continued prompt payment of monthly pension to our esteemed pensioners.’
Dr Ejikeme however used the opportunity to sensitize pensioners against patronizing pension fraudsters, noting that they seemed to have kicked off their activities again as there were reports of pensioners being called by people pretending to be PTAD staff and soliciting funds from pensioners to enable their entitlement to 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,’ he disclosed.
In a goodwill message, a representative of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs Ifeyinwa Ekweozor, said the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate was a step forward in guaranteeing security of pension benefits and ensuring timely and uninterrupted disbursement, even as a representative of the Public Complaints Commission, Mrs Sarah Adeniran, urged the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate to do more to ensure that all outstanding benefits due to pensioners and their next-of-kin were settled.
In the same vain, the Anambra State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Dr. Anthony Ugozor, who commended the state government for providing the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate with a befitting office, thereby bringing their services closer to Anambra pensioners, informed the gathering that though some states in the Southeast stopped the payment of gratuity to Pensioners as far back as 1998, the story was different in Anambra where pensions were paid as at when due.
Meanwhile, Barr. Sunny Osuagwu, OON,who gave a presentation on life after retirement, noted that as a pensioner who wanted to live a fulfilled life, one should know how to manage one’s money, never allowing one’s liability to be above one’s asset. He urged pensioners to keep track of their budget, reduce indebtedness and always invest their money during retirement.
Start dates as scheduled by PTAD under the Defined Benefit Scheme for pensioners are as follows: Police Pensions start from 14th April 2023 to 13th October 2023; Customs, Immigration and Prisons Pensioners start from 1st June 2023 to 31st December 2023; Civil Service Pensioners start from 1st July 2023 to 31st January 2024 and Parastastals Pensioners (Universities, Health, Research Institutes, etc), start from the 1st of August 2023 to 28th February, 2024, respectively.