RESHAPING THE LANDSCAPE OF PENSIONS ADMINISTRATION FOR THE DEFINED BENEFITS SCHEME
I am Barrister Sharon Ikeazor, I was appointed as the substantive Executive Secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) by President Muhammadu Buhari GCON on the 26th of September, 2016.
As you may all be aware, PTAD is responsible for the administration of the Defined Benefits Pension Scheme for over 220,000 pensioners who retired in the service of the Federal government on or before June 30th 2007.
PTAD was established in August 2013 by the Pension Reform Act (PRA) of 2004 which was restated in the PRA 2014 to carry out the functions of the old defunct pension offices of the; Police, Paramilitary, Civil Service and Parastatal pensions.
PTAD has now been in existence for over three and a half years and within this time, it has demonstrated resilience and commitment to being an agent of positive change in the administration of pensions in Nigeria. The agency in the midst of challenges continues to work steadfastly to pursue the improvement of the welfare of pensioners under its management. In some areas it has acted as a bold advocate, while in others, it has worked silently with stakeholders to ensure that pensioners always get the best they can from the government.
PTAD has recorded huge successes in a number of arears. Some arears like the verification exercises for our pensioners are easily seen, but things that are internal to our management have never really been celebrated. I want to share some of these areas to give you better insight into the work that goes into ensuring that this institution remains standing so that our pensioners do not suffer.
Administration of Pensions
- PTAD inherited an estimated 160,000 pensioners at inception. Today we administer the pensions of about 223,000 pensioners from four different pension sectors. The increase is largely due to the swift consolidation of 253 parastatals and agencies under PTAD. More agencies are being on-boarded and the numbers of pensioners are expected to increase.
- PTAD has never failed to make a monthly pension payment since its inception.
- As I have mentioned in past statements, PTAD did not inherit a credible database from any of the pension offices it took over from. There were nominal rolls but no complete database. The lack of the database and information on pensioners in general makes it very difficult to resolve complaints. However, through the on-going verification exercise, which I will talk more about later, we have started the build of the database of DBS pensioners. It never existed, but we are doing it for posterity to ensure that pensioners never have to come out physically for verification again.
On-going Verification Exercise
- The verification process has been ongoing since 2014. The police pensions, the Paramilitary were completed as at mid-year 2015. Upon assumption of my role, I my priority was resuming Nationwide Civil Service verification of pensioners, particularly for those from the North East region.
- Together with my Management team, and a carefully planned strategy. The verification of all pensioners and Next- of- Kins (NoKs) from the North Eastern part of Nigeria was implemented and successfully concluded without incident. The verification of the North East was our contribution to support the president’s goal of ending the insurgency in the North East. The region had been ravaged and we needed to bring hope back to the pensioners in the region. I am pleased to inform you that the North East verification was completed with PTAD, achieving a capture rate of 70% representing 6,445 pensioners.
- A total of 55,400 pensioners have verified under the Civil Service nationwide. I am also pleased to inform you that in the South-South, we were able to capture 21,123 representing a capture rate of 91%.
- Note that 4,000 new pensioners were brought unto the payroll in late 2016 following the field verification exercise conducted in 2015. The pensioners are now enjoying their regular monthly pensions and many have received their arrears.
- The next step is to verify Lagos, South West and North Central.
Benefits to the federal government from the removal of unverifiable pensioners
- Our IT department is weeding out pensioners that do not belong on the payroll. PTAD removed 15,000 unverified names from the payroll and has transferred the savings from those eliminated from the payroll to those who have never received payment and those with outstanding benefits.
- As we work to complete the verification exercise, we expect that more names will be dropped from the payroll.
Payment of 33% arrears
Part of the outstanding 33% arrears have been paid as allocations come to each pension department.
Parastatals – 12 months and owing 39months
CIPPD – Completed
CSPD – 24 months and paying 18months
Police – 3 months and 39 months owing
Recovery of legacy assets
The Pension Reform Act 2014 has mandated PTAD to take over all pension assets, funds and liabilities of erstwhile Pension Offices and Boards of Parastatals. While these Offices and Boards have been quick to transfer liabilities to PTAD, the funds and assets have not been as forthcoming. We have been able to access funds to pay our arrears.
Since PTAD took over the pension management of Parastatals Universities and Colleges of Education in August 2015, legacy pension funds amounting to N19, 137,694,619.94 have remained in the custody of the Insurance Companies. We have issued demand notices on the Companies involved, demanding for the transfer of these outstanding funds into our dedicated e-Collection account with the CBN. Till date, only Leadway Assurance has paid funds in its custody. We are working closely with the Honourable Minister of Finance to ensure that all outstanding legacy funds are transferred to us. This would enable us to defray some of Government’s liabilities arising from the non-payment of pensions.
Prosecution of fraudsters to ensure PTAD remains a fraud free Zone
It is no secret that fraudsters would do all they can to defraud innocent people or the system. This had been the case here in PTAD. All reported fraud cases are reported to the ICPC for their investigation and prosecution where applicable.
Our collaboration with the ICPC has led to detention of persons impersonating pensioners who present themselves for verification. Already, one of such cases is currently being prosecuted before the High Court, Bauchi with our staff acting as a prosecution witness. We are hopeful that a conviction would be obtained in the case, and this would go along.
We are also working closely with the EFCC and keying into the Whistleblowing program of the ministry of finance to ramp up our anti-corruption campaign. An Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit has also been set up internally to investigate fraud.
Initiating talks to get our pensioners on NHIS to enable them get rebates on purchases e.g lower airfares as is obtainable in more developed countries. This will generally improve their welfare.
Also looking at build and strengthen an effective institution that is underpinned by technology and a professional workforce. Secondly to achieve and sustain optimal pensioner satisfaction and stakeholder buy-in and collaboration