By Eniola Dawkins
The Lagos State Government on Wednesday said it has paid N4.7 billion to pensioners under the defined benefits scheme since the inception of the current administration in 2019.
The government also said it would begin online biometric verification for 5,984 pensioners under the Defined Benefits Scheme on Monday.
Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Mrs Ajibola Ponnle disclosed this at a news conference in Alausa, Ikeja, saying that the exercise would kick off on August 9 to September 17, 2021.
According to Ajibola, pensioners under the defined benefits scheme which could not be captured in the Contributory Pension Scheme, which kicked off in 2007, had been paid N4.7 billion since 2019.
She added that pensioners under the Teachers Establishment Pension Office, TEPO, had been paid N2.7 billion since inception of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration, while pensioners under the Judicial Service Commission had been paid N640 million.
The commissioner stated that government decided to embark on online verification of the pensioners, tagged: “I Alive,” because of threats posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the success of the first online verification exercise carried out in 2020 due to COVID-19 necessitated government’s decision to embark on the same process this year as the third wave of the virus is here already.
“Capitalising on the achievement of the 2020 exercise, the Civil Service Pensions Office, CSPO, has concluded plans to make the 2021 Online Verification Exercise a greater success. This exercise will entail confirmation of existing biometric data against the pensioners available online for verification,” Ponnle explained.
The commissioner added that the advantages of online verification included ease of implementation, as individual pensioners undergo their verification from the comfort of their homes or offices either in the country or abroad; compliance with COVID protocols to reduce large gatherings and reduce travel cost to pensioners to various verification locations.
Ponnle said while government did not anticipate any hitch with this process, it was also mindful of the associated challenges with new initiatives and technologically driven ideas and that as such, government had plans in place to make the process as seamless and as smooth as possible.
“As previously executed in Y2020, due diligence would be ensured from the beginning of the exercise to the end so that no Pensioner of Lagos State is left behind,” she said.
Ponnle also disclosed that the Sanwo-Olu administration approved 33% increase in pensions for pensioners under the defined benefits, with 25% rent allowance for officers on GL 7 and above who retired between May 2000 – August 2004.
She emphasised that government is not owing pensioners, as they had been paid till date, adding that there is an ongoing plans by government to expand social protection and welfare of Defined Benefit Pensioners, Medical/Health Insurance and transportation on Lagos State Government travel network.