By Bassey Bassey
The Senate Committee on Establishments has commended the management of Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) for the smooth verification process arranged for pensioners in Akwa Ibom.
The committee chairman, Sen. Emmanuel Paulker, gave the commendation in Uyo on Tuesday while being conducted round the venue of verification and biometric capture of civil service pensioners in Akwa Ibom.
Paulker was conducted round the different stages of the exercise by the Divisional Manager in PTAD, Mrs Christina Adebote.
The senator, who noted some complaints, raised by the elderly and the sick pensioners, pleaded with them to endure so that the problem of non-payment of pensioners in Nigeria would be solved.
He assured that the Senate Committee on Establishments would follow up the relevant agencies to ensure that pensioners are paid their entitlements as soon as the verification exercise is completed.
Also speaking, the Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, who is a member of the Senate Committee on Establishments, said he really sympathized with the pensioners.
Akpabio, who is the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom, pleaded with the pensioners to see the verification as due process that would lead to smooth pension payment in Nigeria.
“I had wished the exercise was faster but I know due process has to be followed.
“I am, however, impressed that the organisers had been hospitable to the pensioners, providing them water and lunch,” Akpabio said.
He expressed the hope that the Federal Government would release the needed funds to pay the pensioners after the exercise is completed.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), a pensioner, Chief Edem Ibanga, who retired in 2005, said the verification process this time was smoother and faster than the previous ones.
Ibanga said that they used to spend three days at the venue without achieving anything but this time he was able to finish in one day.
He, however, called on the Federal Government to pay its share of pensions to retirees in the state and also facilitate the process of paying pension harmonisation.
NAN reports that the purpose of the verification exercise for all pensioners under the Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS) is to establish accurate, credible and digitized database of pensioners.
Others include elimination of duplicate payments, ghost pensioners and regularization of anomalies such as overpayments and underpayments.
The current verification exercise by PTAD will go on simultaneously in Akwa Ibom and Cross River and will last between Feb.7 and Feb. 15.