By Abdallah el-Kurebe
Just as the use of “ghost workers” has become a means by which some well-placed public servants syphon public funds from public treasury, so is the use of “ghost pensioners.”
In the case of the latter, names of dead pensioners still appear on payrolls and pension monies accrued from the reflected names are syphoned.
In realising the need to block all loopholes the Federal government has detailed the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) to verify officers who retired from the services of Customs, Immigration and Prison across the country.
The PTAD began verification of 500 retired officers from Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states at the Police Officers’ Mess.
My investigation however reveals that, typical of the Nigerians irrespective of their social status, some “live” pensioners collect double pension money while others do not receive their entitled pension at all.
Programme Officer of PTAD, Stella Ikenwe told me that the exercise was aimed at identifying “ghost pensioners” as well as correcting the anomaly of double collecting of pension and non payment to others.
Of important notice was that some pensioners at the exercise were so aged that they could not sit up to be attended to. Biometric data of some pensioners who could not come out from the vehicles that brought them, were captured in the vehicles. Again, the old people were served lunch.
A 72 years old Prison Warder, Garba Isa told me that he was being owed seven months pension. “I have been to Abuja to complain about my plight but nothing was done.”
Iliya, as simply identified sat in a vehicle for his data to be captured. “In spite of my ill health, I have to come out for my data to be captured. If I don’t come, someone else could claim my entitlements.”
An interesting aspect of the exercise as I witnessed is that generally, the pensioners were well attended to. Those that have ill health are first and immediately attended to and dispatched.