The Pension Transition Arrangement Directorate has given reason why thousands of workers of the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) are yet to be enrolled into the Defined Benefits Scheme for the purpose of getting their pension as their counterparts in similar agencies.
The Executive Secretary of PTAD, Barr. Sharon Ikeazor, in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja said the delay in computing the pension of the NNSL ex-workers was due to non-verification of the salary structure of the defunct agency many months after it got presidential approval to enroll the former workers.
Ikeazor said there was no deliberate attempt to delay or deny the workers of the former shipping line their dues, adding that it was working round the clock to clear all obstacles against the settlement of their pay.
The PTAD boss pointed out that having successfully verified and settled the pension of 16,873 pensioners of seven other defunct privatized agencies, there was no reason not to capture and pay those of NNSL and others still outstanding.
“In the case of NNSL, the approval for enrolment was received in April 2018, several months after the first set of agencies was approved. The Directorate’s pre-verification exercise for pensioners is a long and painstaking inter-ministerial process that requires the collection of data and digitization of documents.
“Most significantly, it requires getting the authentic salary structure of the agency concerned, which in the case of NNSL was not an easy feat. When PTAD eventually got a response in that regard from the Federal Ministry of Transport, representatives of the Union, whom the Directorate had been actively engaging with all along, declared the document incomplete, saying that it did not include the salary structure of its seamen, though PTAD is yet to receive any formal information from Federal Ministry of Transport regarding that allusion,” Ikeazor said.
The PTAD statement followed claims by the representatives of the former NNSL workers that the agency had deliberately delayed their enrolment into the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS), thereby frustrating the payment of their N3 billion pension arrears.
The agency claimed the allegation as incorrect, adding that the issue of enrolling pensioners of defunct/privatized agencies was part of President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s commitment towards lifting pensioners.
“This policy saw to the enrolment of pensioners of Delta Steel Company, Nicon Insurance, Nigeria Reinsurance, New Nigerian Newspapers and NITEL/MTEL, all agencies that were either privatized or liquidated by previous governments without contingency safety nets for the thousands of their hardworking Nigerian employees.
“Plans are already at advanced stages towards the verification and subsequent enrolment of qualified ex-workers of Savannah Sugar Company, Aluminum Smelter Company, NNSL and others as approved by the HMF.
“It is important to state that, the Directorate has to date, verified and put on monthly pension payroll, a total of 16,873 pensioners of the following seven (7) defunct/privatized agencies, and this is not including a total of 759 next of kins of deceased pensioners of these defunct agencies that had equally been paid their departed breadwinner’s final entitlements as follows:
‘‘NITEL/MTEL 10,801, Delta Steel Company 3,593, NICON Insurance 949, Nigeria Reinsurance 292, New Nigeria Newspapers 507, Nigerian Defense Academy (Civilians) 79, Federal Housing Authority 652.
“Therefore, contrary to the unfortunate statement ascribed to certain representatives of ex-workers of NNSL, preparation for the verification of all treasury funded parastatals, including NNSL, has been completed and the exercise will commence shortly across the country. The program schedule will also be released by the Directorate soon.
“We therefore assure all pensioners that are yet to be verified that succour will soon come their way in conformity with the President’s commitment to improve the welfare of all Nigerians pensioners, especially those neglected by previous administrations,” PTAD added.