By Nike Popoola
A group of pensioners under the Defined Pension Benefit Scheme, the Association of Retired Federal Senior Public Officers of Nigeria, has decried the disparity in payment of the monthly pension benefits allegedly instituted by the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate.
The pensioners said the present payment scale used by PTAD for its monthly benefits fell far below what was stated in the table of consequential adjustment in pensions arising from the implementation of the national minimum wage.
According to the group, the correct table was drawn by Wages and Salaries Commission and was attached to a previous circular dated April 28, 2021 sent to pensioners by the commission on approval of parity in pension benefit payment, which they had been yearning for.
ARFESPON made the complaint in a memo signed by its National President, James Bassey, and General Secretary, Olusoji Sobo, sent to the Chairman of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Mr Ekpo Nta.
It alleged that contrary to the approval on their new benefit scale stipulated by the Salary and Wages Commission which had addressed the problem of disparity, PTAD came up with a table of its own bearing the same title as that of the wages’ commission but with a most confusing content.
It stated, “When your circular SWC/S/04/.542/11/298 dated April 28, 2021 was received by us, we were very delighted and thanked God that the long struggle by our association to achieve parity in the payment of pension to retired officers in the Defined Benefit Scheme irrespective of the scale of salary on which they retired has finally been approved by the Federal Government .
“We were happy that our long yearning of almost 20 years on pension parity struggle for pensioners that retired on similar circumstances of length of pensionable service, salary grade level and step has been met. However, our joy soon turned sour when we started receiving our new pensions in June 2021 and the amount being paid fell short of the amount indicated in your circular under reference.”
Reacting to the complain, the Head Corporate Communication of PTAD Mr Gbenga Ajay, said, “Following the approval for the implementation of the consequential adjustment to the pension benefits occasioned by the new minimum wage of 2019, PTAD commenced payment in May 2021 and has completely paid of the arrears from April 2019 to April 2021 to all the operational departments in the Directorate.
Based on the circular received from the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission, you can see that percentage of the monthly pension of pensioners was used to generate absolute figures for each Grade Level.
Example: the highest pension for someone who retired on GL 01 is 14, 733.44.
“The approved percentage increase for someone who earns 14,733 and below is 59 per cent. 59 per cent of 14,733.44 is 8,692.73. If you add the two figures, you get 23, 426.17.
“Now, remember that some state pensioners with federal share earn less than 14,733.44, some earn less than N1,000 naira. Therefore, their new pension will not be up to 23, 426.17.
“However, with the consequential adjustment, no pensioner, even the state pensioners with federal share, earns less than 8,692.73.
“PTAD did not, and has no right to go contrary to any directive from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission.”