FG has no accurate figure of pensioners — Investigation

FG has no accurate figure of pensioners — Investigation

 Despite huge funds spent on a series of verification conducted to ascertain the number of its retirees under the Defined Benefits Scheme over the years, the Federal Government still has no accurate data of its pensioners nationwide, investigation has revealed.

The Pension Reform Task Team, which was inaugurated in 2010 to manage the scheme, conducted the verification of the retirees same year but it was said to be inconclusive. The group was dissolved in 2012.

During the verification, the team claimed to have discovered and deleted 73,000 fake retirees from the government’s payroll.

The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, the agency regulating the old pension scheme, also said it had deleted more fake pensioners from the payroll after conducting a series of verification of the retirees since 2013 when it was established.

The Association of Retired Senior Public Officers of Nigeria, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the recent delisting of about 15,128 pensioners, saying some of its members were affected.

ARFESPON,  made up of retired management-level officers from salary grade level 14 to permanent secretaries, comptrollers-generals of Customs, Immigration and Prisons and career ambassadors, lamented that due to this, the affected members had not received their pension benefits since November last year.

The Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Union of Pensioners, (Federal Branch) Lagos, Arasi Lawal, also said that the government and PTAD did not know the actual number of civil service pensioners in the country.

According to the latest report by PTAD, the Federal Government releases N6.24bn monthly for the payment of its retirees.

Yet, many retirees have continued to complain of not finding their names on the payroll.

He queried the failure of the agency responsible for the verification of retirees for not completing the exercise in time, which was meant to determine ghost pensioners.

The National President of the NUP, Dr. Abel Afolayan, identified some of the problems of federal retirees to include non-payment of gratuities of pensioners from 1976 to date, short payment and sudden stoppage of monthly pension stipends without reasons.

He also faulted the non-compliance with constitutional stipulation of five yearly pension review in line with sections 173(3) and 210(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary, PTAD Sharon Ikeazor, said the directorate had verified 4,389 civil service pensioners in the North-East states of Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Bauchi.

According to her, the verification, which started on November 28, 2016, was concluded on December 6 in Adamawa State.

She said a total of 4,291 pensioners and 98 next of kin of deceased pensioners were verified in the four states during the exercise.

“No one will be left behind as we address all complaints. Complaint resolution is a continuous process until all genuine pensioners’ complaints have been resolved,” she said.

She observed that the annual budgetary allocations for pension were often one of the most vulnerable items in budget implementation.

In many cases, even where budgetary provisions were made, she said, inadequate and untimely release of funds often resulted in delays and accumulation of arrears of pensions.

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