Federal government pensioners say Nigeria’s pension system used to be notorious for fraud and filled with corrupt civil servants engaged in underhanded deals.

The pensioners stated this as the federal government commenced another round of biometric verification exercises for no fewer than 21,000 bonafide pensioners not captured during the 2019 exercise held in the South-West.

Seyi Adeniyi, a pensioner, said that the pension administration in Nigeria was nothing to write home about due to fraudulent practices.

“The system was notorious for fraud. There were government officials who engaged in the diversion of funds earmarked for pensioners to personal use,” he explained. “The situation has changed following the measures and structures put in place by the PTAD management. It has sanitised the system and restored hope to pensioners.”

Mr Adeniyi added, “A lot of material and human resources have been deployed to make the agency deliver on its goal.”

The five-day mop-up programme for workers who retired from the federal civil service under the Defined Benefit Scheme, DBS, commenced on November 1 in Ibadan.

The biometric verification for unverified pensioners in the South-West is handled by the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).

Chioma Ejikeme, PTAD Executive Secretary, told journalists that the exercise is basically for Federal Government pensioners left out during the 2019 exercise held in the South-West.

“What we are actually doing now is a mop-up verification. It is not like the few verification that we did in 2019. After the review of the 2019 verification exercise, we have to validate it. And in the process, we moved people who were on our payroll who are not yet verified,” said Ms Ejikeme. “So, a lot of them have been coming back, and this was in October 2020. Then we moved about 21,000 pensioners who were not verified, but they were on the payroll.”

Ms Ejikeme added that some returned to prove they are qualified and bona fide pensioners, adding they were in Ibadan for a mop-up verification due to their number.

“We are asking them to take advantage of this opportunity to get verified because, without that verification, we won’t have them on our database,” she said.

The PTAD boss said the agency had improved its operations to eliminate the challenges that bedevilled the old pension regime.

“When PTAD was established, it inherited myriads of problems that had bedevilled the old pension offices, namely Police, Civil Service, Customs, Immigration and Prisons (CIPPO), as well as the boards of trustees of parastatals and agencies, which were poorly managed and underfunded. There was no formal database of pensioners’ records,” she explained. “There were incomplete payrolls and reported instances of ghost beneficiaries as well as allegations of pervasive fraud in the operations of the offices.”

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