…Wants pensioners happy
…Says pensioners to celebrate Christmas holidays in good mood
President Muhammadu Buhari does not play with any issue concerning the welfare of senior citizens who have served the nation and retired as he believes that their services contributed a lot to the development and unity of the country.
Executive Secretary of Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Dr. Chioma N. Ejikeme, stated this during a courtesy visit to her Maitama, Abuja office by the Management of Folio Communications Plc, publishers of Daily Times newspaper, led by the Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief, Mr. Aliu Akoshile.
To underscore the statement, Dr. Ejikeme said the President has not hesitated in approving anything due for pensioners that was presented to him since she assumed office as the head of PTAD, adding that the N10.6 billion balance of the arrears of pension has been approved by Buhari and released to the Department for payment to pensioners, adding that the payment will commence in a matter of days.
“The government of the day, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is very much interested in the welfare of pensioners and therefore committed to the payment of pension of senior citizens, which the president considers as a priority. The President believes that these senior citizens should not just be taken care of but also accorded the dignity they deserve.
“For me, the contributory pension scheme is the best thing that has happened in Nigeria in that while you are still working and earning your salaries, your pension begins to build up; and it is both for those working with government and those with private businesses. That way, everybody that has worked would benefit when the leave service,” she said.
She praised her predecessor in office, saying the management she succeeded achieved so much so that she is challenged to consolidate on the solid foundation already laid as well as strive to do more to ensure that every pensioner that falls within the bracket of PTAD mandate is verified and pay-rolled before the 1st quarter of 2020.
According to her, the management team of PTAD is made up of highly cerebral technocrats that are hard-working, well focused and committed to the wellbeing of pensioners in the country, as according to her, they are currently devising means, using technology to ensure that all pensioners are reached and that they in turn can get access to information they need without much bottlenecks.
“We are currently clearing our data base, to generate credible data, to ensure that people get what is due to them and as at when due,” Dr. Chioma Ejikeme stated, adding that plans are on to ensure that pensioners that are unfit due to old age or ill-health are verified at home or hospitals with what she described as mobile verification.
As a Medical Doctor, Chioma Ejikeme said apart from age, what kills pensioners most is inability to access quality healthcare because of lack of funds. She, therefore, said the legacy she would very much like to leave behind in PTAD is a workable and efficient health insurance scheme for pensioners so that they can have easy access to Medicare.
The Executive Secretary of PTAD had earlier while welcoming the Daily Times team, congratulated the new management for innovations introduced to make the paper meet up with the current challenges in the media industry.
She said, like Daily Times, the story of pension administration in Nigeria dates back to decades with a history of challenges of data collection and verification which combined to make the process previously cumbersome, therefore the controversies that characterised pension in the country.
She, however, expressed gratitude that with technology and government’s commitment, especially the administration of President Buhari, the days are getting brighter for the nation’s senior citizens.
The PTAD boss disclosed that pensioners in Nigeria are to celebrate this year’s Christmas holidays in a good mood as the Federal Government has approved and released the sum of N10.6 billion for the payment of balance of the arrears of the 33% percent part of which was paid three years ago.
She also told the Daily Times that PTAD is equally waiting for the commencement of the payment of the new minimum wage approved by President Muhammadu Buhari to civil servants so that PTAD would use the data to implement the same percentage increase for pensioners.
She praised her predecessor in office, Sharon Ikeazor and her management team for leaving a solid foundation behind, pledging that her administration would do more to consolidate on the gains and to take the welfare of pensioners to greater heights, adding that she inherited committed workforce that would help to make her dreams a reality.
“We have here, a crop of good, well focused and dedicated technocrats with passion for the care of senior citizens that would work together with me to achieve set goals,” she said.
In his introductory speech, Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of Folio Communications Plc, Aliu Akoshile, said the team was in PTAD to pay courtesy visit to the management and introduce ways towards a win-win partnership with the Department.
Akoshile said the new management of publishers of Nigeria’s Heritage newspaper is working to build a paper for the future that is compliant with current trends in the industry. He informed the PTAD management that Daily Times online platform can now be accessed through Daily Times app which was recently launched, adding that been a public service organisation, PTAD would benefit immensely by taking advantage of the various Daily Times platforms to reach its publics as well as get feedback from them.
Among the management staff of PTAD that joined Dr. Chioma Ejikeme to receive the Folio team includes Mr. Babagana Kaigama, Director, Corporate Department; Mr. William Dogo, Director Civil Service Pension Dept; Mr. Kabiru Yusuf, Director, Parastatals Pension Dept; Mrs. Nneka Obiamalu, Director, Pension Support Services Dept; Dr. (Mrs.) Magdalene Kadiri, Senior Technical Advisor to the ES and Mr. Olugbenga Ajayi, Head, Corporate Communications, among others.
Those that accompanied Mr. Akoshile to the visit are Mr. Abdulmumuni Balogun, General Manager, Business Development and Bonaventure Melah, General Manager Publications/Managing Editor.