By Rosemary Onuoha
THE Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has commenced verification of about 6000 pensioners of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, (NITEL) and its mobile subsidiary, MTEL in the Ketu centre of Lagos state.
An equal number of pensioners are expected to be verified at the Ikeja centre as well.
The exercise, which will last for 12 days is the first phase of the verification for NITEL/MTEL pensioners taking place in Lagos, Enugu and Port-Harcourt simultaneously.
It will be recalled that the federal government recently gave PTAD the approval to take over the pension liabilities of NITEL/MTEL.
Assistant Director, Pension Administration of PTAD, Mr. Jibril Idris, at the Ketu centre said that the verification is necessary to identify genuine and qualified pensioners so as to commence the process of paying them monthly pension and any outstanding retirement benefits.
“The exercise has been orderly so far, although, most of them expect to be verified in one day, but we have the expected number that we can deal with for a day. So we advise the others to come back the next day, so far they have been very cooperative,” Idris said.
PTAD said that the directive to take up responsibility for the pension liabilities of the privatized enterprises by Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, amongst which is NITEL/MTEL, was communicated through an approval letter received from the federal ministry of finance sometimes in February 2017.
“Given that most of the defunct agencies including NITEL/MTEL were at one time or the other commercialized or privatized, by the (BPE), as part of the government’s economic reform program, the Directorate had through its parastatals department initiated a move to collaborate with the BPE to gather relevant information on the nature and status of outstanding pension liabilities of the pensioners of these agencies.
Speaking to Vanguard, Comrade Austin Onokpise, a former staff of NITEL, said “As civil servants we are expected after retirement to run pension for life. Nigeria is one of the affiliates of the International Labour Organization and by that you are entitled to life pension after retirement. Hence, with this verification, it is like giving us back our rights. So we are very happy to be restored back to our life pension.”