The Federal Government has moved decisively to curb corruption and fraudulent activities in pension administration and institute best practices in the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
The government began the move even as the National Pension Commission (PenCom) revealed that the Federal Government has failed to remit N63.34 billion for its workers under the contributory pension scheme.
Executive Director of PTAD, Sharon Ikeazor, who was speaking at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), in Abuja, said the government has jointly established PTAD Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) with the ICPC to deal with the issues of fraud and corruption in the pension system.
Ikeazor said “It is also in furtherance of our determination to prevent corruption and fraudulent activities and institute best practices in pension administration in PTAD that we recently inaugurated the PTAD Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) in collaboration with the ICPC. It is a bold, action-backed statement that PTAD will not allow the activities of pension fraudsters to continue under our guise.
“Pension administration is indeed in need of change and that change will begin with us at PTAD, as we continue to improve the welfare of all pensioners under the defined benefit scheme.”
The PTAD Executive Secretary, however, revealed that the civil pensioners were still owed 18 months, while the Police pensioners were owed 39 months. She pointed out that PTAD was only able to offset some of the 42 month arrears based on available resources.
“PTAD is not unmindful of the complaints from the Police pensioners, but we assure everyone that working with all relevant stakeholders, towards resolving the problems.
Ikeazor, however, called on all state and federal executives of the NUP to take a message back to the pensioners, warning them that pensioners should not give money to anybody to help them process the payment.
“PTAD will never ask a pensioner for money to process the payment of their pension and other entitlements. Do not give cash to anybody.”
Also speaking at the NUP NEC meeting, the Director-General of National Pension Commission (PenCom), Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, disclosed that the Federal Government is yet to remit N63.34 billion for its workers under the contributory pension scheme, while the total registered participants (contributors) under the scheme has increased to 7,240,196 as at September 2016.
According to her, one of the greatest challenges of the scheme is in the area of funding of the accrued rights of Federal Government employees, adding, “the outstanding accrued right due to employees of the Federal Government that retired between 2015 and October 2016 amounted to N63.34 billion.”
The DG who was represented by the Director of Surveillance in the commission, M.B Umar said a total of 174, 844 persons have retired under the scheme since inception.
In a bid to enhance the achievements of the a scheme, she said the commission has established a micro pension department under the inspectorate division to achieve the objective of increased pension coverage in Nigeria, promoting participation by the informal sector and an individuals that are not mandatorily covered by the Pension Reform Act 2014 and developing and collaborating with stakeholders to build awareness.
The NUP, however, warned all the state governors who are owing pensioners many months of unpaid pensions and arrears not to force them to pronounce curses on them with grey hair.
President of NUP Comrade Abel Afolayan, while addressing the NEC meeting of the Union in Abuja yesterday regretted that many state pensioners were being owed over 12 months, saying that many pensioners across the country were unhappy because they were not paid.
He commended the governors of Lagos, Jigawa, Anambra, Enugu and Yobe states, saying, “ these states are not owing our pensioners any monthly pensions and dues and we will not hesitate to sing their praise.”
He, however, admonished defaulting governors to make amend so that “old men will not be forced to pronounce curses on them with their grey hairs.
Afolayan led the pensioners to demand for N25,000 new minimum pension, regretting that many pensioners are still paid less than N5,000 pension monthly, even with the high rate of inflation and economic recession.
He also called for immediate payment of the 18 months of the 33 per cent pension arrears to the civil pensioners and 39 months areas owed the Police pensioners.
On their N25,000 new demand, he declared that it was criminal for a pensioner to collect less than N5,000 monthly in this time of serious economic recession.
He said: “Before I left Osogbo for this meeting, my wife told me a bag of rice is now N22,000. It means that that even the N25,000 we are asking can only buy a bag of rice. I should tell you, as at now, some pensioners are still paid less than N5,000. It is criminal for a pensioner to collect less than N5,000.
Comrade Afolayan said the union entered into a long negotiation with the Federal Government for the upward review of pension which finally yielded result when the former SGF directed that Salaries, Incomes and Wages commission to issue a circular for 33 per cent pension increase effective from July 1, 2010.
He acknowledged the fact that since then, civilian pensioners throughout the country were paid 24 months, out of the 42 months arrears, remaining a balance of 18 months, “of which we have a very good assurance that government will pay the balance soonest.
However, he stated that the leadership of the union were still struggling to ensure that Police, NIPOST, Electricity, Railways, Universities pensioners and others who are yet to get full benefit from the government are paid fully.
He assured pensioners across the country that the union would not rest until all of them who are owed get their pensions.
Comrade Afolayan said “Dear comrades, today is not a day of long and endless speech from me, but I want to assure that we shall not rest on our oars until the government pay us all our entitlements to the last kobo.”