By Stanley Onyekwere
There is sigh of relief for pensioners in Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) as they are set to receive a whopping sum of N474 million as their pension benefits.
In particular, the sum is for payment of pension to 85 retired and deceased officers of Area Councils and Local Education Authorities (LEAs).
Making this disclosure, Director, FCT Area Council Staff Pension Board (ACSPB), Dr. Nanzing Nden, said the approval was made by Minister of State, FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu.
Nden while fielding questions from newsmen in his office last week, explained that it is pension entitlements of Federal Government workers before the commencement of the statutory Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) in 2004.
His words: ‘’I want to say that there are some developments as regards FCT pension administration, especially FCT Area Council Staff Pension Board.
“First is the approval of the Honourable Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, of the sum of N474 million in favour of 85 retiring and deceased officers of the Area Councils and Local Education Authorities (LEAs) in respect of the payment of Accrued Rights Benefit.’’
Dr. Nden also showered thanks on FCTA leadership for unbroken monthly payment of pensions to retirees throughout the Covid-19 total lockdown and up to date, saying reactions the board has been receiving from the pensioners showed a happy group who are deeply appreciative of government’s gesture.
He expressed gratitude to God that amid the global human catastrophe, including on the aged, given that the virus is particularly potent on senior citizens, no loss of life was recorded among FCT pensioners.
The Director stated that the board has a process whereby prospective pensioners are paid in advance, with the last of such being a N1.2 billion doled out long before the Covid-19 lockdown started, saying that due to issues pertaining to the pandemic when it hit FCT in March, the Minister ordered suspension of the process.
However, he added, with the easing of confinement, ‘’the Honourable Minister has granted us approval to pay officers who retired up to the onset of Covid-19. So, we expect to roll out these payments through the Treasury Department; and immediately after paying these, we’ll then consider those retirees who retired during the Covid-19 period up till date.’’
Nden revealed that the Minister of State has also approved the renewal of the board’s Group Life Assurance policy for 2020/2021 for staff of Area Councils and LEAs. The scheme was to terminate on June 30, 2020.
But, according to him, at the onset of Covid-19, the Minister asked the board to renew, to avert any eventuality, because the pandemic could negatively impact staff and the general public they serve.
Another sum of N64 million, Dr. Nden also revealed, was approved for payment in respect of death benefits to 31 deceased officers of Area Councils in addition to utilizing the sum of N150 million for payment of monthly pension allowance to 1,242 retired officers under the Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS).
He further revealed other accomplishments of the board within the Covid-19 lockdown period, listing, among other things, completion of the board’s document management system for e-filing, e-management of files, as well as establishment of a standard document management centre to enhance accuracy of data. It is set for commissioning by FCTA authorities.
The director added: ‘’The pension management system project has also been completed. It includes equipping the board with IT facilities and work equipment. It also includes the creation and establishment of a dynamic website for interface with the board. The website is dynamic because it affords the board opportunity to, in the future, verify our pensioners online real-time.
‘’The other component of the pension management system is the back-up solar system for lighting our computers and ICT Centre.
‘’There is also the establishment of security for our data, which is being managed at the moment by a consultant. But with the data management system which the National Information Technology Centre has established, we intend to take over the management of the back-up centre. So, the IT Centre is completed and we await the date the Honourable Minister will give us for the commissioning.
‘’Other issues are the procurement of utility vehicles which have greatly enhanced our operations. We’re comfortable with the vehicles that FCT Administration has procured for us.
‘’Lastly, before the advent of Covid-19 we had completed our verification of pensioners, and it went well. The reports are being collated now for presentation to management.
‘’Also, one of the consultancies for actuarial valuation has been completed and it will be presented by the actuary. This consultancy is to improve the pay-out to our retiring officers in the Area Councils and LEAs.’’