ong>By Ismaila Chafe
The Federal Government has released N54 billion for the settlement of inherited and current liabilities to retirees on the platform of the Contributory Pension Scheme.
The presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, disclosed this when he featured on an interactive radio programme, “Hannu Da Yawa” on the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN Kaduna.
The programme was part of activities to commemorate the second anniversary of the Buhari administration.
He also revealed that the Buhari administration had further directed that regular monthly remittances be made into the Retirement Benefits Bond Redemption Fund (RBBRF) with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure the continuity of timely payment of benefits to retirees.
According to him, under the Buhari administration, PTAD saved N5.7 billion through the efficient administration of the pensions of parastatals and universities.
“In addition, pension assets increased from N4.96 trillion in June 2015 to N6.42 trillion as at March, 2017, indicating a growth of over 29 percent.
“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari will continue to ensure the strengthening and accountability of PTAD,’’ the presidential spokesman assured.
Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said the Buhari administration had brought to an end the series of fraud and scandals around the issue of pensions in Nigeria.
He said that this feat was achieved by strengthening the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), which had introduced a number of innovative measures over the past two years.
According to him, one of the measures is the automation of pension payment processes.
Shehu noted that the Bank Verification Number (BVN) policy had also been implemented in the pension scheme, with over 103,000 civil service pensioners verified.
“Pensioner records have also been digitalised for secure archiving, with thousands of thousands of old, physical pension folders converted to e-files.
“In addition, the government of President Buhari has enforced a new level of commitment to the welfare of pensioners and retirees, with the PTAD creating an automated and centrally administered complaints management process with a dedicated call centre that receives and treats over 200 calls on a daily basis,’’ he said.
He stated that in contrast to the past when a record number of pensioners died on queues trying to get their rights, “the new arrangement ensure that the pensioners are attended to with utmost care’’.
He added that the arrangement had also provided conducive atmosphere for verification, food and water as well as wheelchairs for those that have mobility challenges, adding that infirmed pensioners were verified at their home or hospital.
The Senior Special Assistant also claimed in the programme that the reform carried out by the administration in the National Drug Law Environment Agency (NDLEA), had brought “respect to Nigerian international travelers who now face less harassment at airports in other lands’’.
He revealed that under the present administration, the NDLEA had seized more than one million kilogrammes of various drugs, destroyed about 110,000 hectares of drug farms and arrested 17,000 suspected drugs dealers.
He announced that so far, about 5,000 persons had been convicted in the last two years.(NAN)