By Femi Odere
DURING a visit to her office in Abuja by the Executive Secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, was greeted with the news that the nation’s pension scheme will now be extended to Nigerians in the Diaspora who had worked diligently and had served their country but relocated to different corners of the world after retirement.
Mrs. Ikeazor, having recognized the critical role that Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa’s office can play in the actualization of this novel idea, paid a working visit to her in order to “partner with the office of the SSA to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora” so that the relevant data on Nigerians in the Diaspora can be obtained with relative ease. Mrs. Ikeazor’s initiative has been commended in several quarters including some members of the group (Nigerians in the Diaspora) for whom this initiative is also targeted.
What Mrs. Ikeazor and her PTAD are trying to achieve is not some abstract bureaucratic innovation. It is rather an initiative that has direct and poignant impact on human beings and the totality of their quality of life after retirement. This is probably what Madam Eunice had in mind when she heard the news that she would be able to receive her pension even outside the Nigerian shores. Madam Eunice, a Nigerian pensioner, retired as a matron in one of Nigeria’s government hospitals.
She had waited for about 10 years for her pension all to no avail. She states, however, that not collecting her pension after putting in all her productive years in serving her country was taking a toll on her health and wellbeing. As a result, she asked her son who resides in Canada if she could come over to take care of her grand-children. Her son obliged.
Madam Eunice had all but given up on her pension. But her hope in her country is now rekindled when she received the news that a proposed plan is in the offing as to how her pension would be paid to her while she lives in Canada. “I will come back to Nigeria to live the rest of my life once they prove to me that it is real,” she said emphatically.
But this cheering news apparently did not sit well with Ochuko Akpobome, a self-described public analyst. In his article in the Vanguard on Friday, January 20, 2017 which was titled “Verification: Is PTAD playing politics with pensioners’ income?” One is hard pressed not to think that Akpobome may be under some pressure to project a negative narrative about the PTAD exercise.
- Odere is a media professional. He can be reached at [email protected]