Pensioners of the defunct NITEL and MTEL will soon start receiving their pension benefits as the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has commenced their verification in different parts of the country.
The pensioners numbering 6,000 are those under the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS.
The exercise is being conducted in three centers across the country and will last for 12 days.
Some of the Pensioners who spoke to THISDAY at the Ketu verification ground, said that they had long waited for the payment of their retirement and pension benefits and almost lost hope of being paid when suddenly PTAD stepped in to clear the payments beginning with the verification exercise to ascertain genuine pensioners.
Speaking on the verification, PTAD Executive Secretary Sharon Ikeazor , said the directive to take up responsibility of the pension liabilities of the privatised NITEL/MTEL, was communicated to the agency through an approval letter from the Federal Ministry of Finance sometimes in February 2017.
She said the on going exercise taking place in Lagos and Port Harcourt was the first phase, further adding that there will be a second phase at Abuja, Gombe and Kano.
She said in Lagos, the exercise is taking place in Ikeja and Ketu.
The PTAD boss explained that the essence of the verification is to determine actual number of pensioners and next of kin of dead pensioners for proper calculation of their entitlement .
She said the pensioners were duly informed about the exercise and its requirements. "Recently the federal government approved that PTAD takes over the Pension liabilities of NITEL. At the time PTAD came to be, they were not existing so we didn't take them over and that's why government approved it.
"There were adverts in prints and electronics, we had engagement with their representative and unions and even before the verification we have been engaging them so they knew about the verification exercise and what is required."
On challenges met in the exercise, Ikeazor, said so far, there was no challenge, except that everybody expects to be verified one day when they fully know it is a twelve day exercise so what we do is to do our daily estimated number and advice the other people to come back the next day.
On how the pensioners have responded to the exercise, she said: "So far, they have been very cooperative, we haven't experienced any case of fraudulent people coming and we hope we don't have any. After this process we will identify the actual pensioners and compute their actual entitlement and then request for the funds, provisions have been made for this in 2018 budget."
Commenting on the exercise, one of the pensioners and leader of retired staff of NITEL/MTEL staff in Lagos zone Ketu centre, Comrade Austin Onokpisi, said that initially, payment of their pension was contracted out by government.
He said this lasted for only five years after which payment was suspended until the present time when government remembered them again.
On his feelings about the exercise, he said: "I am happy with the exercise because it is just like giving you back your right. We are thankful to the management of PTAD especially the Executive Secretary, Sharon Ikeazor, because she has done her job well."