By Ebere Nwoji
The federal government has said it has so far spent N67.5 billion this year on the payment of pension benefits to 250,000 pensioners under the old Defined BenefitÂ Pension Scheme.
The amount was paid to police pensioners, paramilitary and pensioners of parastatals under the scheme.
The Defined Benefit PensionÂ scheme is managed by the Pension Transition and Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
The Executive Secretary of PTAD, Sharon Ikeazor, who disclosed this yesterday while answering questions from journalists at the takeoff of the 11-day pension verification exercise forÂ pensioners residing in Lagos, said of the 250,000 pensioners, 21,000 of them were resident in Lagos.
â€œPTAD has come to verify civil service pensioners in Lagos State. Here, we have a mixture of those who are purely federal civil servants and the state pensioners who have a federal share.
â€œThe exercise is a forum for PTAD to verify genuine pensioners because when PTAD was established, it inherited pay roll that was not verified. In the exercise, we are capturing their biometrics, their finger prints, photographs and we are taking all original documents, including letters of appointments,â€ she explained.
According to her, pensioners involved in the exercise are those who retired after June 2007, while those before then, fall under the management of the Contributory Pensions Scheme.
Ikeazor, whoÂ admitted that she was satisfied with the conduct of the exercise in Lagos, said this mayÂ be the last verification ever for civil service pensioners, adding that â€œonceÂ we have credible secured data base for pensioners, they will not need to come out for verification anymore.â€
She said PTAD started the verificationÂ exercise nationwide because of initial challenge it faced after its establishment.
According to her, PTAD had in its payroll pensioners it was not sure of their existence. â€œWe had in our payroll pensioners we were paying but not sure of whom we were paying. In December 2015, we had 15,600 pensionersâ€™ accounts dropped because they had no BVN but have been receiving pension without BVN.
She said after the verification exercise done in different parts of the country, especially in Southsouth and Northeast, the directorate reinstated 18,000 pensioners to payroll, assuring that after the Lagos exercise, in less than six months, the directorate would reinstate genuine pensioners whose names were dropped.
â€œWith all the documents available, weÂ will do quality assurance; we will sit down, compute every pensionerâ€™s benefit and effect payment,â€ Ikeazor stated.
She said the directorate currently has about 250,000 pensioners in its payroll on whom federal government spends N7.5 billion on monthly basis.
The above figure, having been paid to the retirees between January to September amounts to N67.5 billion, adding that government has been releasing the pension benefit funds on regular basis through budgetary allocations just as the pensioners receive their benefits before the end of every month.
She however said in receiving the pension allocation, PTAD, does not maintain any commercial bank account but lodges the same into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).