The Pension Transitional Administration Directorate was established in 2013 through an act by the National Assembly to cater for the wellbeing of pensioners and their complaints. Specifically, it is responsible for the administration of the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) where the amount a pensioner is paid is based on the number of years they have worked for the federal government and the salary they earned. The birth of the organization was greeted with a lot of enthusiasm by Nigerians especially the long-suffering pensioners who had been subjected to so many indignities in the process of collecting their rightful entitlements.
In fact, in the recent past what dominated the media were shocking revelations about the massive theft of funds by those who were supposed to manage the resources allocated for the benefit of pensioners. The funds were either brazenly stolen and shared by public officers or allocated to ghost or non-existent pensioners and pocketed by individuals.
Although, the creation of PTAD brought some sanity to the administration of pension, with the coming of Sharon Ikeazor as the Executive Secretary of the agency, things really began to change for the better. Ikeazor’s appointment could aptly be described as that of a round peg in a round hole, considering her passion for the wellbeing of humanity. Before she came into public office, she had preoccupied herself with several philanthropic activities, like offering scholarship to female children from indigent homes, running a prison outreach programme that pays the fines of awaiting trial persons, undertaking free legal representation for some inmates. Her NGO, the Wakilin Mata Empowerment Initiative provided interest-free loans to internally displaced women to do small-scale businesses.
With such a huge commitment to humanitarian activities, her great passion for the task of facilitating the welfare of pensioners is quite understandable. To sanitise the system for an effective operation, Sharon Ikeazor had promptly set up an anti – corruption and transparency unit to institutionalise a fraud-free administration in the organization. Some of her achievements within the short period she assumed office include the enrolment of war-affected police pensioners who had been excluded from the pension payroll for years as well as the enrolment of the long suffering New Nigerian Newspaper pensioners for pension payments. Ikeazor’s effort in tackling the last problem is particularly commendable. The verification of pensioners from the Police, Customs, Immigration and civil service across the six geopolitical zones, including the Federal Capital Territory, were successfully accomplished. The revival of Pension Transitional Administration Directorate state offices in Enugu, Benin, Kano and Lagos as well as the automation of all pension payment processes are also part of her achievements. It is important to note that contrary to the embarrassing development in the past when pensioners were shabbily treated, PTAD now ensures they are verified in conducive environments, provided with food and water in air-conditioned tents.
However, Sharon Ekeazor’s laudable efforts so far in ameliorating the hardship of pensioners can only yield the desired results if the other relevant agencies in pension administration, like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the office of the Accountant General, make it a matter of policy to always promptly release funds for this purpose. Those who laboured in their youth to develop the nation should be treated with dignity in old age in order to encourage those still serving to put in their best. Delay or non-payment of entitlements after retirement demoralizeS workers and wittingly or unwittingly encourage corruption.
Hajiya Ramatu Ohioma,