• Thursday, December 07, 2023
businessday logo


PTAD has changed the face of pension

Nigerians tap N208bn pension savings as job crisis worsens

I forgive those Nigerians who were too young to know, but those of us who knew what pension administration through the old pension offices in Nigeria was until a decade ago, know that it has undergone a drastic change for the better, especially in recent years.

Pension administration was once one of the ugliest faces of public service. It has now undergone a complete turn-around for the better. There still are and there may always be some issues in such a complex matter, but tremendous achievements have been recorded by the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate [PTAD], especially in recent years under the leadership of its Executive Secretary, Dr. Chioma Ejikeme.

Administration of the Defined Benefits Scheme [DBS] by PTAD since its formation ten years ago, especially in the last four years, has overcome most of the old problems such as absence of a comprehensive database of pensioners, incidents of ghost pensioners, allegations of fraud, administrative bottlenecks in accessing pension services, poor funding of pension liabilities and poor service delivery to pensioners.

The huge losses incurred by the public till as well as pensioners demonstrating in the streets due to failure to pay their pension for many years are now things of the past.

Pensions under the Defined Benefits Scheme are now being paid regularly by PTAD, as I can personally attest. PTAD has also completed payment of arrears arising from consequential adjustment to pensions in April 2019 following the increase in national minimum wage.

In addition, PTAD liquidated the 126 months outstanding liabilities due to ex-workers of Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation as well as 219 months inherited liabilities of ex-workers of New Nigerian Newspapers.

Also liquidated by PTAD under Dr. Ejikeme are the 100 months’ inherited liabilities to ex-workers of NICON Insurance; complete payment of 96 months’ inherited liabilities to ex-workers of Delta Steel Company, Aladja, and also implemented the 9.7% increment to ex-PHCN workers with attendant arrears.

Also paid by PTAD were 48 of the 84 months’ inherited arrears owed NITEL/MTEL pensioners, leaving a balance of 36 months. PTAD has completely liquidated the inherited unfunded liabilities of all the Defunct/Privatized Agencies handed over to it in 2017, with the exception of NITEL/MTEL, which it is also intent on liquidating.

Read also: Contributory pension assets now N16.76trn

PTAD under Ejikeme also commissioned a mechanized filing system to safely store pensioners’ physical verification and departmental files. This device not only secures and archives documents but also makes it faster and easier to recall pensioners’ files to reconcile and resolve any complaints.

In October 2021, PTAD also launched the “I Am Alive” Confirmation Solution and successfully completed its Pilot Phase where it tested 50,000 randomly-selected pensioners in all six geo-political zones. In April 2023, PTAD then fully rolled out the solution for the use of all pensioners, which was however staggered in order to prevent a heavy flow of traffic to its website.

Allegations recently made by some aggrieved persons that PTAD’s management tampered with pension funds are fed by ignorance because the main pension funds are kept in the Central Bank and no one can tamper with them.

AThe funds under PTAD management’s control are the budgeted funds for its operations and running costs, not even staff salaries, which are paid directly from IPPIS. Complaints made by some people that the pension paid to pensioners is low is also off the mark because PTAD pays approved rates and from funds made available by the Treasury.

There are still problems and complaints, but these are a fraction of the 100,000 complaints handed over to PTAD by the former pension offices upon its creation in 2013. To those who have achieved so much, encouragement should be given because it is work in progress.

Abubakar, a former staffer of NITEL, is a Kaduna-based pensioner.