Dr. Chioma Ejikeme leadership and achievements as PTAD Executive Secretary



Dr. Chioma Ejikeme

President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Dr. Chioma Ejikeme as Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) on August 20, 2019. In this article, EDET UDOH highlights the achievements of the Directorate in 365 days under her leadership.

Introduction
The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate’s (PTAD) establishment as a Federal Agency is in compliance with the provision of Section 30 (2) (a) of the 2004 Pension Reform Act now repealed and re-enacted in Section 42 (1) of the Pension Reform Act 2014. The Act provides for the consolidation of the Old Defined Benefit Pension Schemes for pensioners who did not transit to the Contributory Pension Scheme and their subsequent management by PTAD.

Dr. Chioma Ejikeme was appointed the Executive Secretary of PTAD on August 20, 2019 following the appointment of Barr. Sharon Ikeazor, the immediate past Executive Secretary as a Minister of State for Environment by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari. Below are some of her achievements in the past one year.

Putting Smiles on Pensioners’ Faces

At a media parley in Abuja recently, Dr. Ejikeme while commending her predecessor for laying a solid foundation for PTAD, promised to continue in building a super structure on the foundation for the sake of pensioners. “Within a period of one year, Covid-19 notwithstanding, we have been able to put smiles to the faces of our pensioners and Noks through regular payment of monthly pensions and payments of arrears and gratuities. We have also sustained and initiated reforms that have strengthened the administration of the Defined Benefit Scheme in the Country.”

PTAD Pensioners’ Satisfaction Survey
To ensure improved service delivery to pensioners, the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) had embarked on a pensioner satisfaction survey. The phone-call based survey was aimed at gauging the pulse of the pensioners, measure their satisfaction with PTAD services and provide the necessary feedback towards improving on its service commitment to pensioners.

Sustained Awareness Against Fraudsters
The Directorate has continued on sustained awareness campaigns to proactively protect the pensioners and to expose pranks employed by the fraudsters to swindle uninformed pensioners. PTAD has continued in sensitizing the pensioners and Next of Kin on the activities of fraudsters through SMS to all pensioners, Newspaper adverts on National Newspapers and radio jingles on Radio stations across the six geo political zones of the country.

Determined to win the fight against pension fraudsters, PTAD has created an Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) in the Directorate, launched vigorous media campaigns against fraudsters’ activities and staff training on early detection of fraudsters and scammers in the system. To ensure greater result, Dr. Ejikeme has continued with the initiative and seeking support from other government agencies to ensure the success of the objective. During the period under review, she has visited the Chairmen of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crime Commission to seek support in her fight against scammers.

The two agencies had, during the visits, agreed to share information especially with regards to Court processes and arraignment of pension fraudsters with PTAD to keep tabs on criminal activities and ensure more convictions.

Completion of Verification Exercise
The Directorate during the period, has ensured completion of the Nationwide Verification Exercise for the Parastatal Pensioners (PaPD) and continuous verification in its Lagos and Abuja Offices and other eight State Offices. A total of 76,064 pensioners were verified on the field while 4,223 pensioners were verified in-house.

Computation of Pensioners Benefit
She said during the period, PTAD considered Continuous computation of monthly pension payment; Restoration of pensioners hitherto not on payroll to Monthly Pension Payroll; Monthly Pension Adjustments – Overpayments and underpayments; Payment of Arrears to Pensioners on the Payroll as well as the Review, computation and payment of death benefits to the Next of kin of deceased Pensioners as paramount.

Some key Achievements Across Departments
During the period, we have ensured regular payment of monthly pension benefits to Pensioners across the four (4) Operational Departments contributing immensely to the welfare of Pensioners/their families and alleviating their sufferings as well as continuous complaint resolution which has considerably reduced complaints and has revived public trust in Government’s ability to professionally administer pension payment.

“Between July 2019 and August 2020, PTAD paid a total of over N96 billion across all the Operational Departments as follows: The sum of over N77 billion was paid as monthly pensions payments to 244,643 pensioners as at July 2020, while 87, 842 pensioners were paid arrears and gratuities of over N19 billion. Similarly, the sum of over 670 million was paid to 418 Next of Kin of deceased pensioners. The above payments include the balance of 33% arrears for the Parastatal Pensioners which had been outstanding since 2010 and was fully paid to the Pensioners and NoKs in November/December 2019,” she added.

Payment of Inherited Liabilities
Dr. Ejikeme said the Directorate made payments in December 2019 as well as in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2020 to various groups of pensioners to reduce the inherited liabilities as follows: New Nigeria Newspapers, 12 Months arrears for 501 pensioners; NICON Insurance, 12 Months arrears for 1,038 pensioners; Nig-Reinsurance, 12 Months arrears for 287 pensioners; Delta Steel Company, 12 months arrears for 3,651 pensioners; NITEL, 12 months arrears for 11,331 pensioners and in 2020; PTAD paid 306 pensioners of NAHCO their one off payment. The payment which is in batches is ongoing.

Removal of 21,227 Unverified Pensioners from the Payroll
“Following the successful conclusion of the Nation-wide Parastatals Pensioners’ Verification Exercise in November 2019 and mop up exercise through the In-House verification for those that missed the field exercise, a total of 21,227 pensioners on the payroll were found to have not been verified. The Directorate has sent the list of these pensioners to the Pension Unions/Associations/Agencies to sensitize their members. The information is also on the PTAD website to enable pensioners who are on the list and alive to make themselves available for verification, deceased pensioners and unresponsive pensioners on the list will be removed from the payroll from October 2020,” PTAD boss said.

Collaboration with NIBSS
In 2019, according to Dr. Ejikeme, PTAD collaborated with Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) on Bank Verification Number (BVN) Authentication. The NIBSS BVN validation exercise, she said led to the suspension of 5,834 pensioners from the payroll, adding however that 2,416 of those removed have been restored after undergoing positive review and validation.

IT/management of unforeseen risk/loses
According to her, “There has been continuous expansion of Information Technology infrastructure for effective service delivery in all our state offices to make the Directorate more accessible to Pensioners, strong anti-corruption message that comes directly from the Executive Management on the critical importance of accountability and integrity in PTAD operations while embarking on a serious anti-fraud fight against pension scammers to protect the pensioners.

“An appropriate business continuity programme is being implemented to manage unforeseen risk/losses that could occur as a result of IT equipment damage from natural disasters, human error, hacking, system failure, cybercrime etc.”

Positive Recognition from Civil Society Organisations
She said PTAD has been receiving positive recognitions from Civil Society Organisations such as the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), BudgeIT, Connected Development (CODE), Right to Know (R2K), Basic Right Watch (BRW) and Media Right Agenda (MRA) on PTAD’s efforts in promoting government accountability and transparency.

Recovery of legacy funds from Insurance Companies
PTAD boss said the Directorate is working assiduously on the recovery of legacy funds and assets in the custody of 12 Insurance Underwriters belonging to the defunct Agencies. They were previously responsible for the pension payments to Federal Government Parastatals and the universities. Out of the 12 Insurance Underwriters identified by the Directorate who are in custody of legacy funds and assets, the Directorate has filed an action under the undefended list procedure for the recovery of legacy funds and assets against Four (4) Insurance Underwriters namely: Goldlink Insurance Plc, Unic Insurance Plc, Standard Alliance Life Insurance Plc and Niger Insurance Plc.

Staff Training
The Directorate, she said, has continued to organise training sessions for staff to further enhance their quality of service delivery. Some of these trainings are focused on ‘Enhancing the Efficiency and Quality of Service Delivery’ and ‘Team Work and Collaboration.

Future Plans
Dr. Ejikeme said PTAD will continue to wage war against pension scammers and fraudsters; Recovery of legacy funds and assets; ensure I’m Alive Project becomes a reality; implementation of Health Insurance for Pensioners; A permanent site for the Directorate; Pensioners welfare through sustained benefit payment and Staff welfare.

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