By LOVETH AZODO
Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has commenced the verification of 6,000 NITEL/MTEL pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme.
The exercise is being conducted in three centers across the country within a time frame of 12 days.
The Pensioners of the federal government’s former parastatals had long waited for the payment of their retirement and pension benefits and almost lost hope of being paid when suddenly PTAD stepped in to clear the payments beginning with the verification exercise to ascertain genuine pensioners.
The directive to take up responsibility for the pension liabilities of the privatized enterprises by Bureau of Public Enterprises including the NITEL/MTEL, was communicated through an approval letter from the Federal Ministry of Finance sometimes in February 2017.
The verification exercise is at its first phase as there will be a second phase at Abuja, Gombe and Kanu. Further, PTAD will conduct similar exercise in three centers namely: Lagos, Port Harcourt and Enugu, Lagos which has two sub-centres in Ketu and Ikeja.
At the Lagos Verification centre ketu, the PTAD Executive Secretary, Sharon O. Ikeazor, told OptimumTimes that the verification which began on Monday, January 15th, would last for 12 days, adding that already about 1,075 pensioners had been verified and would be paid as soon as the computation process is concluded.
Sharon explained the essence of the verification saying that through it, the actual pensioners and next of kin of dead pensioners would be identified and proper calculation of their entitlement would be determined.
He said: “Recently the Federal Government approved that PTAD takes over the Pension liabilities of NITEL. At the time PTAD came to be, they were not existing so we didn’t take them over and that’s why government approved it.
“There were adverts in prints and electronics, we had engagement with their representative and unions and even before the verification we have been engaging them so they knew about the verification exercise and what is required.
“They are well informed. So far we have no challenge, it’s just that everybody expects to be verified one day when they fully know it is a twelve day exercise so what we do is to do our daily estimated number and advice the other people to come back the next day.
“So far, they have been very cooperative, we haven’t experienced any case of fraudulent people coming and we hope we don’t have any. After this process we identify actual pensioners and compute their actual entitlement and then request for the funds, provisions has been made for this in 2018 budget.
Leader of retired staff of NITEL/MTEL staff in Lagos zone Ketu centre, Comrade Austin Onokpisi, told Optimum Times that they were paid a Pension of five year buyout by the Federal Government and after that the struggle continue, the five year buyout was a policy but as a civil servant you are expected to run your pension for life and that is why we are here now.
“I am happy with the exercise because it is just like giving you back your right. We are also happy with the Federal Government and thankful to the management of PTAD especially the Executive Secretary, Sharon Ikeazor, because she has done her job well”, he said