Abia State government has commenced the biometric -data capturing of all pensioners to ascertain the actual number of genuine pensioners on the state’s payroll.
Addressing journalists in Umuahia, Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Aham Uko, stated the exercise is designed to checkmate the rising cases of irregular names on the pension scheme, which had also made it difficult for the payment of pensions.
The Commissioner expressed hope that at the end of the exercise, the huge monthly pension bill bedeviling the state will be pruned down to ensure regular payment of genuine pensioners.
He explained that biometric data capturing exercise which will last for 10 days across the 19 sub treasuries across the state , would also include facial-capturing and finger-printing as well as Biometric Verification Number, BVN, confirmation of pensioners.
Putting the pension state’s pension arrears at N21 billion, the Commissioner explained that government was concerned about the huge bill and was determined to reduce it.
He disclosed that before he assumed office, the state was battling with a monthly N540 million pension bill, he was able to prune it to N380 million.
The Commissioner assured that all genuine pensioners captured during the exercise would receive their pension for the month of March, assuring that provisions had been made for spillovers who would get paid as soon as they were captured
In his words, “We are commencing a biometric data capturing of pensioners in the state. We need to ascertain who the genuine pensioners are and to ensure that we sort out the huge pension bills and ensure regular payment of pensions. The will be fingerprint and facial capture of all genuine pensioners.
The exercise will hold in the 19 sub treasuries in the state. The Nigerian Union of Pensioners will be at the exercise to identify their members to be captured. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu wants pensioners to be treated with dignity and to enjoy the benefits of their active years in service. He wants pensioners who have served the state to receive their money monthly,” he said.
Uko further explained that pensioners who travelled outside the state should not bother coming back for the exercise but simply log in to the website already provided and get captured.
To make the exercise less stressful for the pensioners, he Commissioner pledged that ambulances would be stationed at the sub treasuries to tackle any health emergency, even as the pensioners would also get free blood pressure and blood sugar tests.
He advised pensioners in the state to participate in the exercise to enable the government to commence regular payment of pensioners in the state