*Begins in-house staff audit
James Emejo in Abuja
The Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor has said a total sum of N1.2billion would be released between now and December 15 to offset arrears of pensioners of the Nigeria Police Force.
About 4,061 police pensioners, who retired under the PTAD scheme, are yet to receive their pension, raising lots of complaints and petitions by supposed beneficiaries.
But PTAD had blamed the delay largely on the unavailability of funds particularly at period when the federal government is grappling with the current fiscal crisis.
However, the planned payment of police retirees would give great reprieve to some of them who had waited earnestly for the good news.
Nevertheless, Ikeazor further told members of the House of Representatives Committee on Pensions, led by its Chairman, Hon. Adamu Shekarau, who was on an oversight function to the agency that the payment of the 33 per cent arrears to the police would cover a nine-month period and put the retired officers at par with some other pension departments.
The PTAD boss, who assumed office recently had vowed to make pensioners welfare a top priority by ensuring time payment of their entitlements.
She said:”Adequate arrangement is being made for additional payment of the 33 per cent arrears to bring the police at par with some of the other pensions departments.
“We are doing this in collaboration with all concerned parties and hope to conclude before December 15. The liabilities for police pensioners is about N1.2bn for nine months and we are working to pay them before December 15.”
She also told the lawmakers that the agency is currently working with the Bureau of Public Service Reforms to subject it’s workers to a comprehensive staff audit to among other things, determine the quality of manpower to be recruited and effect necessary replacements before the actual recruitment could commence.
She added that a one-on-one assessment of staff had revealed some irregularities in their employment thus the need to correct the anomalies.
She noted that PTAD would further seek to address the plight of pensioners who were unjustly removed from the payroll as it commences verification exercise in the North-East, South-South and South-West geo political zones.
Meanwhile, members of the House praised Ikeazor’s empathy to pensioners as well as disposition to team work in the agency.
Shekarau said the National Assembly would continue to provide legislative support on pension related matters and charged PTAD to ensure that an accurate database was realised to put an end to incidences of fraud and related complaints.
He said though pension administration was still facing a lot of challenges, the approach adopted by the leadership of PTAD was already yielding positive results.
The chairman also urged the agency to speed up its verification exercise, noting that nothing meaningful could be achieved without a credible database infrastructure for eligible pensioners.