In as much as the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is working assiduously towards ending corruption in Nigeria, there are colossal corruptions going on in most government agencies with particular emphasis to Pension Transitional Arrangement Department, PTAD.
It is heart burgling that while some officers in some of these agencies in the country have the same vision and understanding with the federal government in fighting corruption, others are busy planning in sophisticated ways to encourage corruption. Such individuals or group, because of what they are benefiting, they have no choice than to pull down the system.
Having considered the major reason why PTAD was established in accordance with Section 30 (2) of the Pensions Reform Act 2004 and as amended in the PRA 2014, Section 42, the pioneer Director General of the agency, Mrs. Nellie Mayshack, painstakingly cleaned the system of the corrupt practices that has hitherto prevented genuine pensioners from receiving their money regularly.
It is on record that since November 2013 when PTAD effectively took over payments, pensioners receive their monthly benefits electronically through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. Within only two years of its operation, PTAD under the astute leadership of Mayshack, has reversed the ugly experience of pensioners.
Of course many pensioners today can testify to the fact that PTAD has sanitised and sensitised the pensions under the leadership of Mayshack and as well brought tranquillity to pensions, restored dignity to pensioners and regained public trust. These innovative ideas put in place by Nellie which led to maximum result worth commendations.
Moreover, the agency was able to restore the sanctity of pension funds through the use of direct electronic payments to pensioners ‘accounts, while pension funds are safe in the treasury without any case of fraud. She was also able to institutionalise a viable and transparent pension system that is devoid of fraud.
In addition to the safety of pension funds in the treasury, investigation has revealed that PTAD, under the leadership of Mrs. Nellie, was able to log huge savings for the federal government in tens of billions and only recently, reported N7 billion savings in five months that otherwise would have disappeared into insurance companies/underwriters. The inherited payrolls have reduced as it recently removed 3,000 ghost pensioners from police pension, more than 1,500 from paramilitary pension and a list of 120 fraudsters on civil service pension has also been reported to Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.
Some pensioners across the country, who were effected in one way or the other, can attest to the fact that before the coming on board of PTAD, the system was poorly managed with inadequate regulatory oversight, grossly under-funded with a deficit of over N2 trillion. Pensioners were experiencing difficulty in accessing their pay and the system was nothing but a national embarrassment manifested by public outcry over documented pension fraud and fund looting, mistreatment of pensioners, lack of credible database despite continuous annual verification exercises, absence of credible and transparent pension payment platform, leading to bloated payroll and accumulated liabilities as well as increased backlog of pension liabilities that were escalating on daily basis.
It is worrisome that the monumental corruption currently in Pension Transitional Arrangement Department, since the exit of Mrs Nellie, is unbearable as pensioners no longer collect their pensions as at when due coupled with escalating number of pensioners on the pay roll of PTAD.
Under the leadership of the current DG, fraud and corruption are endemic and the system has declined to a state of rot, payments were opaque, slow, irregular and manual, leading to errors and are performed by unmotivated and uncaring staff. The present PTAD needs to be called to order urgently to avoid total collapse of the system and structure.
Investigation has also disclosed that there are some powerful forces bent on destabilising the transformation of the pension system in PTAD under the able leadership of Nellie Mayshack. These so called powerful interests had from the onset never embraced the establishment of PTAD, because they wanted to continue to feed on the pension funds.
In order to save PTAD from total collapsing, the federal government should, in line with the change agenda and anti-corruption war of the APC led government, direct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, ICPC and other relevant bodies to beam their search lights into the activities of the of the current Acting Director General of PTAD as it relates to pension funds.
The pensioners currently under the payment of the present acting DG should be investigated because, while Mayshack was in charge, there were only 900 verified persons but today they claim to be paying 1700 pensioners, where did the extra 600 persons come from?
Other sister agencies that manage pensions should follow the model being implemented by PTAD to ensure transparency, cost saving and prompt payment of pensions to the beneficiaries. Moreover, public institutions should be strengthened to guide against ambiguity that allow individuals who oversee the affairs of the organisations and make themselves emperor and see the public treasury as free fund.
While Nigerians and the world await the report of the committee that is looking into the alleged diversion of fund or the N50 million salary against the embattled DG, we urge the committee to expedite action in their findings and the Federal Ministry of Finance should publish the report for the public to know what transpired in PTAD under the watchful eyes of Mrs Mayshack. Whatever the outcome of the report, and whoever is found wanton; be it the accused or the petitioners, must be brought to justice because we will continue to harp on this issue until Nigerians know the true situation.
For the benefit of the pensioners and for the sake of transparency, the operation of the PTAD should be returned to status quo until the report of the findings constituted by the ministry of finance is released. This will guide against corruption in the system as those who are celebrating the suspension of the embattled DG, now see her absence as a loophole for looting the pensioners’ funds.
We stand with President Buhari’s fight against corruption in Nigeria and we will continue to support the anti-corruption agencies in ensuring that those who are involved in dipping their hands in public treasury are arrested and prosecuted. Most importantly, we are very worried about the current development in the Pensions Transition Arrangement Department and we are calling relevant agencies not to relent in its effort to put an end to corruption in public service. Government must ensure that those who work hard in honesty are rewarded rather than vilified and victimised, this would encourage people to give their best for their country.

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