The Senate Committee on establishment and public service has expressed satisfaction with the measures initiated by the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, to meet the challenges in the Nigerian pension sector.
This was disclosed by the Chairman of the committee and Senator representing Kano Central Senatorial district, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, while fielding questions from Journalists after a close door session at a one-week involving National Assembly Committees on Pensions, as well as Budget and Appropriation and PTAD holding in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Monday.
He said the committee on Establishment and Public Service initiated the stakeholders meeting to rob mind with the agency in order to understand their challenges and what they are doing vis a vis their projected budget.
“We have a close door session retreat. And we encourage this stakeholders meeting because it makes our work a lot easier. In the next couple of months, October, November, traditionally, they (PTAD) will come to present their budget, and we will be able to understand where they are coming from.
“And it is going to be very helpful to us to move forward. And one other thing we were discussing here is looking into what are their challenges?. I think in this new age of technology the new challenge of PTAD, is going digital. And we in the legislature are trying to push and let the executive understand the burden in pension.
” PTAD had to initiate so many ways to overcome these challenges. So we are satisfied with the measures they are putting in place. I think on the whole the agencies handling pension matters are doing very well. I think we are getting it better now”
The former governor of Kano State who commended the agencies handling of Pension matters in view of the improvement recorded in recent years, however, blamed long outstanding issues in pensions on instability of government, and government policies occasioned by military intervention of the democratic process.
On what is being done to douse the problems faced by Nigerian pensioners, Shekarau noted that the major problem that pensioners have been having in the country was poor documentation and assured that all the pension administrators are working towards addressing that.
“So I think they are trying to see how they can perfect the records, because it is not just giving out monies like that, but developing the correct documentation because if you don’t have the correct documentation the problem will continue. Not all next of kin will be sincere enough to report when a pensioner dies, they want to keep receiving.
“Also some fraudster’s in the various agencies who will not want to report dead pensioners, and keep receiving. And we are calling on government agencies to improve the documentation of their staff and enlighten retirees to be on what to do few months to their retirement. So these are part of the challenges that we are gradually trying to ease up for all pensioners and I think we are getting it better”.
Corroborating Senator Shekarau’s position, the Executive Secretary of PTAD, Dr. Chioma Ejikeme said the agency was doing everything to make sure all pensioners are well documented on the payroll , getting them all verified, as well as make sure they receive their pensions regularly and as at when due.
“But most importantly we are about to come up with a verification solution called “I am alive solution’. Now this I am alive solution will enable Pensioners get themselves verified in the comfort of their homes, or with anybody who has a smart phone around them.
” So they will verify themselves and it will hit our data base in our office, that way they don’t have to come to Abuja, or go to any field for verification, so that is what we have in the pipeline now, and the pilot scheme is about to kick off in the next one or two months”, She said.