By Stanley Nwanosike
Pensioners in the South-East have lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the use of technology-driven verification to stamp out all forms of stress in the pension system.
The pensioners gave the commendation at the launch of “Am Alive” Application by the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) in the South-East in Enugu on Friday.
They were of the view that President Buhari has continued to accord pensioners unprecedented respect and commitment to their welfare throughout his administration.
Chief Temple Ubani, President-General of Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners Association of Nigeria, said that Buhari had changed the tide and system of pension administration by the singular act of approving technology to assist the system.
“It is clear that our amiable President is continually thinking on how to better our lots and this will be further achieved by the ‘Am Alive’ application that can be operated in the comfort of our homes.
“Operating the Am Alive application is so simple with a few steps you are through and given a confirmation,” Ubani said.
Mr Edwin Ofoegbu, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Enugu State, said that Buhari’s administration through PTAD had changed the pension system administration to the extent that we have a clear departure from the recent past.
Ofoegbu said that the Am Alive application is such a transformational initiative, adding that those days of traveling from one’s home to a far destination for verification are over.
“Slumping of pensioners on queue is over as well as pensioners being stranded, turning into destitute and beggars in the city for their verification is over.
“At least in my lifetime, I have seen the ‘Change’ President Buhari has promised through the new way and how senior citizens of this great country are treated fairly, with respect and love,” he said.
Mr Emma Adu, National Secretary of NITEL/MTEL Pensioners, thanked the Federal Government through PTAD for coming up with an application “so easy and less cumbersome’’ that elderly people can relate to.
“We salute President Buhari for the changes we have been seeing as pensioners, being spear-headed by PTAD.
“The latest being the Am Alive application, which is an innovation worth millions as far as we are concerned as pensioners.
“The thought, burden of traveling and even some uncertainties at the pension verification centres have been lifted from us with the Am Alive application,” Adu said.
In an address, the Executive Secretary of PTAD, Dr Chioma Ejikeme, said that the Am Alive application is a giant step meant to reduce the stress of pensioners going forward; while confirming whether an individual pensioner is alive or not.
“With the Am Alive application, you can do your verification in the comfort of your home and it will hit the PTAD data-base simultaneously; thus, a stress-free, seamless, concise and friendly technological app all pensioners can relate to.
“Today’s launch of the application is a test run to determine its workability; while the pensioners here today would act as those that will train their fellow colleagues.
“In every community you must find or have people using simple android phones that you can use to enter our website and fill up the simple requirements and get your confirmation at the end,” Ejikeme said.
The executive secretary also revealed that the Federal Government has set up a committee to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health to see to the possibility of placing all senior citizens in a universal health insurance coverage scheme.
“This arrangement when implemented will ensure optimal health of all our senior citizens and all pensioners will be included and be beneficiaries of the scheme,” she said.
Earlier, in a Pension Stakeholders’ Forum (town hall meeting), the pensioners urged PTAD to look into the issue of some pensioners whose names were removed in the payroll but had been verified.
They also called for creation of a forum where the chairman or secretary of pension unions can relate and interact with PTAD executives on issues bothering their individual members among others. (NAN)