Nigeria plans health insurance scheme for pensioners
By Fola Adeotun
Lagos, September 3, 2018 (AltAfrica)-The Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, has revealed that the directorate plans to grant health insurance to its pensioners as an additional welfare scheme to ease their plights.
Ikeazor equally re-affirmed the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to settle all outstanding arrears owed pensioners across the country based on his disposition to uplifting the standards of living of workers either still in active service or retired.
Ikeazor gave this assurance while speaking on its current and future initiatives during PTAD’s 2018 South-West Stakeholders’ Forum for retirees in Lagos.
“The president is interested in the plight of the pensioners that is why several efforts is being made to ascertain the numbers of the pensioners and their years of service in other to ascertain what should be their entitlement since they have left service.”
She added that the present administration led by President Buhari is responsible and responsive to their needs which they can trust.
“Our initiatives include continued engagement with the National Health Insurance Scheme for enrolment of pensioners, when they get complains, the agency look into the issues individually not based on union once it is verified they get paid” she noted.
Following the completion of the civil service verification, she said all eligible pensioners under that category had been enrolled and the payment of monthly pension to them had since commenced.
The directorate brought in over 19,000 new pensioners, who had hitherto been denied their rights to pension, into the Defined Benefit Scheme.
“They have also successfully verified, computed and put on payroll nearly 5,000 pensioners of defunct/privatised agencies such as Delta Steel Company, Aladja, Federal Housing Authority of Nigeria, Nigeria Reinsurance, and Nigerian Defence Academy Civilians,” Ikeazor stated.
She maintained that pensioners of NICON Insurance Plc would commence receiving monthly pensions in September 2018, while work on the enrolment of NITEL pensioners had reached advanced stage.
She assured that once the cash has been made available they too would be paid.
The Executive Secretary said this achievement had lifted many families out of miseries that lasted for up to 13 years in some instances.
She said that the verification of other agencies under same category would be done alongside other parastatals beginning in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Ikeazor stated that PTAD has paid pension and gratuity arrears to over 15,000 newly enrolled civil service pensioners.
The PTAD boss, however warned that any employee of the agency caught in act of corruption would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
However, to curb corruption and enhance transparency in management of pension , she said a full-fledged Anti Corruption and Transparency (ACTU) has been set up in the agency.
She said the agency’s employees are abreast of consequence of getting involved in pension fraud so no PTAD staff would ask for money before carrying out their duties.
Also she said the directorate has applied for the release of funds set aside in the 2019 budget to settle the remaining arrears of civil service and parastatals pensioners.
She said the purpose of the stakeholders’ forum series was to provide updates on the activities of PTAD and interact directly with its pensioners in order to obtain objective feedback from them in an interpersonal manner.
In the 10 months since the first forum in October 2017, she said, the directorate had recorded many milestone achievements based on the positive feedback it got from pensioners and other stakeholders.
She said PTAD would continue to ensure prompt payment of monthly pension to all genuine pensioners.
“Consequently, the dateline of 15th day of every month for the completion of all departmental payrolls will remain sacrosanct,” she said.
PTAD boss said her, ultimate goal in this regard is to ensure that payment of pensions is prioritised over the payment of salaries, not only by the Federal Government, but by all tiers of government.
While the Chief Commissioner Public Complaints Commission Hon Chile Wenger on his part said though they have improved on the old pension system but some of those challenges still persist that need intervention to make the process smooth.
National Union of Pensioners President, Abel Afolayan, said that funding bill for the union should be re-instated as well as outstanding arrears and salaries of workers benefits should be paid.
Afolayan said no need to continue to improve infrastructure as development strides while their members are dying of hunger. They should ensure that the life of our senior citizens are save.