The attention of the Directorate has been drawn to a publication that was published on Wednesday 13th December 2023, on the online platform of Sahara Reporters, alleging that PTAD has failed to enroll the legacy pensioners of Bank of Agriculture numbering about 830.

It is important to note that the Directorate received the directive of the Federal Government to take over the management of the pensioners and related legacy pension liability of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) which was formerly operating as Nigeria Agriculture & Cooperative Bank, before its restructuring and transmutation to become BOA, through a letter from the Federal Ministry of Finance dated 07th September 2020.

Subsequent to this directive, and in line with its policy and procedure for take-over of new Agencies onto the Defined Benefit Pension Scheme, the Directorate carried out appropriate due diligence with the BOA towards gathering relevant data that could help to ascertain eligibility, computation and enrolment. Such information includes the nominal roll of eligible pensioners, approved salary structure, applicable pension increment & pension emolument, geographical distribution of pensioners, details of accrued unfunded pension liability (if any), audited account of pension funds, schedule of job grading peculiar to the Agency and sample computation sheet to name but a few.

Consequently, the Directorate carried out verification of the eligible ex-workers between May and October 2022 in Lagos, Kano, Owerri and Abuja being the locations that was agreed to be most convenient for the pensioners to convene, based on the preliminary information about their geographical distribution that had been received earlier.

The career and related records of the pensioners who showed up to participate in the verification exercise were subsequently reviewed, validated, computed and enrolled onto the pension payroll in batches with effect from December 2022. Additionally, pensioners who were enrolled for pension after the effective enrolment date of December 2022, were paid accrued arrears to cover the period from December 2022 to whatever month they got enrolled. All pension computation took cognizance of all approved and applicable pension increment including the most recent Consequent Pension Adjustment (CPA) approved by the Federal Government to take effect from April 2019.

The nominal roll of eligible legacy pensioners received from BOA at the time of take-over contained a list of 826 pensioners. However, only a total of 651 pensioners showed up across the four locations where verification took place, for their career records, bank details and biometric records to be captured on our verification database. In effect a total of 175 pensioners have failed to show up to be verified by the Directorate, and in line with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2014, establishing PTAD, and mandated the creation of a comprehensive database of eligible pensioners amongst others, verification is a mandatory requirement for any eligible pensioner to be enrolled for pension under the Defined Benefit Pension Scheme.

In view of the above explanation, ex-workers of BOA who are currently resident outside the country would need to physically present themselves for verification and biometric capture before they can be enrolled for monthly pension. This position, as guided by Statute, is what has indeed been maintained for all eligible ex-workers who wish to be enrolled for DBS pension managed by the Directorate, and not restricted to ex-workers of BOA alone, and this is in order to ensure that the previous ills and inefficiencies of the DBS scheme prior to the Pension Reforms of 2004 do not resurface again. It might interest the publishers of Sahara Reporters to note that diaspora pensioners, hitherto resident abroad, have responded positively to this directive to travel back to the country, to carry out their verification and promptly get enrolled onto the pension payroll and were paid any accrued arears due to them.

Out of the 651 pensioners files (which includes one test file) that were verified, a total of;
• 572 pensioners have been enrolled and currently receiving monthly pension to date.
• 29 pensioners were found not qualified for pension, having served less than the required number of years to qualify for same, and notification letters have been dispatched accordingly;
• 24 pensioners were noted to have insufficient documents to conclusively ascertain their qualification and rightful pension, and have been duly notified to submit the required documents;
• 22 pensioners’ files are currently undergoing the mandatory review, validation before final enrolment onto the pension payroll; and
• 3 pensioners were noted to be currently on the DBS pension payroll of other Federal Government Agencies under PTAD, having taken up new employment post their earlier retirement, and thus their additional pension under BOA is being consolidated and paid together with their current pension.

The Directorate has, from the time of enrolment of the BOA pensioners, and in line with its resolve to always listen and respond to its pensioner’s enquiry, petitions and complaints from all pensioners it manages under the DBS, continued to provide appropriate clarification and implemented corrections, where the observations made are found to be valid and credible.

The Directorate has gone to this length to provide the facts of the issues involved in the verification, computation and enrolment of verified eligible pensioners of BOA, so as to give opportunity for all Stakeholders who may have come across the allegation published by Sahara Reporters on its online platform, the chance to understand and assess same fairly and objectively, without any sentiments, and to avoid the danger of relying on a single, one-sided narrative.

It is indeed obvious from the details provided in this write up, that the information published by Sahara Reporters is unfounded, far from the truth, and a concocted fabrication of the so called “sources” from which it claimed to have got its scoop. It is indeed unfortunate that the online journal did not make any effort to get the opinion of other Stakeholders such as the Bank of Agriculture, the Pensioners Association and indeed PTAD in consonance with the tenets of balanced & fair reporting that true journalism entails.

Finally, we would like to enjoin all Pensioners, the Pensioners’ Union and all other related Stakeholders, including the media, to continue to work with the Directorate towards ensuring that the Defined Benefit Pension Scheme of the Federal Government continues to benefit all eligible pensioners in a fair and equitable manner as envisioned by the founding fathers that initiated the reforms of the Pension Sector that led to the establishment of PTAD and brought in the positive changes and outcomes that have been achieved over the last ten years.