From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
To tackle the ghost pensioner debacle, the Federal Government through the Pension Transition Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), has introduced a digital enrollment initiative called ‘I am Alive’ for pensioners in Nigeria.
Briefing newsmen at a press conference to unveil the exercise in Abuja on Tuesday, PTAD Executive Secretary, Dr. Chioma Ejikeme, said the initiative would be used to biometrically capture pensioners on any smart phone to confirm that they are still alive and eligible for payments.
The PTAD boss explained that the scheme would facilitate easier, faster and more friendly verification for the senior citizens as well as enable the Directorate to eliminate deceased beneficiaries from its database to conserve funds to pay those alive.
“I am Alive” Confirmation Solutions is a web-based software designed to enable our pensioners easily confirm their lives from the comfort of their homes or neighbourhood, using either a smartphone or a computer system.
Ejikeme said: “This solution takes the pensioner through a three-step confirmation process that ends with a text message response. The first stage is the identification process where the pensioner enters their number and bank account, the second stage is the photo capturing stage which will be validated with the existing picture in the PTAD database and finally the third stage where the pensioner perform the aliveness validation by moving his/her face to follow the moving object on the screen. ”
The Executive Secretary also warned the senior citizens to note that the process does not require Bank Verification Number, ATM Card details and ATM Card pin. She advised them to beware of fraudsters who may want to take advantage of the scheme to swindle pensioners.
She added that the exercise will be done in batches starting with 50,000 pensioners across the four operational departments and the six geopolitical zones.
She revealed that all pensioners who are part of the pilot phase have been notified by PTAD via SMS. She pointed out that those who didn’t get any notification are not part of the pilot phase and will not be able to gain access to the platform to confirm their aliveness.
She added that all pensioners will be duly informed when the application is deployed on a full scale and is available for pensioners.
“On the successful implementation of this pilot phase, we will deploy the application on a full scale at predetermined intervals on a continuous basis for all verified pensioners on the payroll.
We wish to use this opportunity to assure our esteemed pensioners that the “I Am Alive” confirmation solution was designed with their utmost welfare in mind leveraging on accuracy, reliability, user friendliness and convenience. We had promised that the era of bringing out our aged pensioners for field verification is over, and we stand by our promise.
“Be rest assured that nobody can tamper with your pension payment through the “I Am Alive” platform. If somebody with a smartphone or computer system in your neighbourhood helps you to confirm your aliveness, the person cannot steal your money. All we need is confirmation that you are still alive so that we can continue to pay your pension”, she stated.