The Federal Government would require a total of N38 billion to settle outstanding 33 per cent pension arrears of 238,533 retirees; executive secretary of the Pension Transitional Administration Directorate (PTAD), Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, has disclosed. Ikeazor, who disclosed this in Abuja during the 2017/2018 budget defence with House of Representatives’ Committee on Pensions, said out of the N38 billion, the police was owed N1.6 billion, while the civil service and parastatals were owed N6.1 billion and N30.1 billion respectively.
She said: “The quantum of liabilities comprised of the arrears of 33 per cent pension increment which the Federal Government approved in July 2010, but the implementation of which did not start until 42 months later in January 2014.
“There was also the outstanding death benefits of next-of-kins as well as the arrears owed to pensioners who were arbitrarily removed from payroll under the previous dispensation.
” She told the committee that PTAD received a total sum of N16 billion assets and money as legacy fund from some insurance companies out of total sum of N25 billion legacy fund.
For example, NICON Insurance transferred total sum of N13 billion worth of assets to the Directorate, while the Directorate recovered the sum of N5.6 billion from Leadway Assurance Limited, Custodian Life Assurance Limited, LASACO Assurance Plc. and African Alliance Insurance Plc. over the past two years. Speaking further on the activities of PTAD, Ikeazor said the Directorate opened a recovery account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the Treasury Single Account (TSA) where the insurance companies are to remit the legacy fund.
On challenges facing the agency, the executive secretary disclosed that some fraudulent family members of dead pensioners were still collecting their pension payments from the Directorate. She lamented that those fraudulent family members withdrew the monthly pension payments of dead kins for almost two years before the Directorate detected at the point of renewal of the ATM cards. Hence, in order to eliminate the pension fraud, the PTAD has concluded plans to issue biometric cards called “I am alive status” to all pensioners.
Ikeazor noted that PTAD was working on Master Card to achieve this, adding that plans are also underway to deploy POS machines to various parts of the country as part of efforts geared toward ensuring easy access to pension allowances.
According to her, the Federal Government was “losing so much to those families by not letting us know they are dead.” She also disclosed plans to commence verification of NITEL and MTEL pensioners as from January 15, starting with Enugu, Port Harcourt and Lagos in the first phase, while Kano, Gombe and Abuja will be carried out in the second phase. Chairman of the committee, Hon. Hassan Shekarau and members of the committee, commended PTAD for a job well done.