Relief came the way of pensioners of some federal government owned agencies that were privatised on Monday as the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) began their verification with a view to paying them their entitlement several years after they were retired.
The pension agency on Monday began the verification of pensioners of NICON Insurance, Nigeria Re-Insurance Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA Civilians,) and New Nigeria Newspapers who has not been benefiting from the pension for a long time.
The verification exercise which is taking place simultaneously in Abuja, Kaduna and Lagos was flagged off at the PTAD headquarters in Abuja by the Executive Secretary, Barrister Sharon Ikeazor who said the exercise is expected to last six days.
PTAD has so far verified civil service pensioners in the North West, northeast, south-south, south-east and part of south-west with only Ogun and Oyo left in the south-west.
Anxious pensioners of the for companies were thronged the Maitama Headquarters of PTAD and the Kaduna centre for the verification which involves data capturing and verification of documents as early as 8.00am.
Some of the pensioners spoken to said they were excited that for the first time retirees were having it very smoothly adding that the procedure is completely different from that of the past where pensioners are treated with disdain.
Awa Nmaju, Chairman of the Pensioners Pressure Group and a former staff of NICON Insurance said that they have not received pension in the last twelve years.
He said: “Our pension has not been paid in the last 12 years and we have been struggling to see that we get paid. Eventually, PTAD has done a great job arranging this verification exercise for us.
A journey that started in 2005 is not a small journey, but were relieved as soon as our case was transferred to PTAD. A lot of attention has been given to it especially with the coming on board of the new Executive Secretary of PTAD Sharon Ikeazor, she has done a great job for us.
“I am very much excited. In fact, my happiest day was on the 3rd of March when I was told that the minister has approved for us to be pensionable.”
He said that when the federal government privatized his former corporation and were paid off, he has been finding it difficult to survive; lamenting that what they were paid was not commiserate with the years they put in service.
However, he said, “Since we have been put under pension, we will start receiving monthly stipend though it may not be as we expected it. Although they will pay us arrears.”
Another pensioner, Mr Mcihael Olasoni Rees, said: “For the first time, retirees are having it very smoothly and you know the procedure is completely different from that of the past where pensioners are treated with disdain; people have fallen down, because of lack of seating arrangement but as you can see, how things are going on very smoothly here.
“We give kudus to PTAD. The old days where retirees are treated as if they are not human beings look as if it’s past, now you can see how people are going in a good procedure.
When we came in they welcomed us very well and told us that there will be snacks after the verification exercise, that has never happened in the history of retirees in this country.
“My expectation is that, if you have been captured and verified as a retiree, you should enjoy pension.
They should speed up the process of pension payment so as to reduce the pressure and the anguish pensioners are going through because honestly, life has not been easy for most us.
“What PTAD is doing now is part of it. As I said earlier, you can know the rigours when they said they want to verify pensioners they go through hell but now it is a different ballgame.
Look at the way they are doing things orderly, look at the way they are attending to pensioners like human beings.
Before, pensioners are treated almost like less than an animal, but now they are making things orderly and that is the beauty of it and at least we are getting this treatment but we want the payment to follow almost immediately.”