Thursday, 14 August 2014


The Creation of the Pension Transition Arrangement Department.
Over the years, the Pensions Office of the OHCSF gained an unwanted reputation for inefficiency and mega fraud. The sight of pensioners carrying placards and sleeping on “Ghana-must-go” bags outside the OHCSF was a frequent and sorry one. Many pensioners died waiting to receive their pensions and even the security men outside the Pensions Office were reputed to have extorted money from pensions to “help to locate” their files. Several civil servants in the Pension Office were indicted and prosecuted for fraud running into billions of Naira and many Nigerians saw those that could steal from old-age pensioners as the lowest of criminals. This was a major source of embarrassment for the OHCSF.

Although previous Heads of Service felt this embarrassment acutely, it was Bukar Goni Aji that decided to do something about it. He noticed that there was a provision in the 2004 Pension Reform Act (and all its subsequent amendments) to set up a Pension Transition Arrangement Department to manage the pensions of those that were under the old non-contributory pension scheme. Using the provisions of the law, in partnership with the Coordinating Minister for the Economy/ Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, he set up a committee to fast-track the take off of PTAD. The recommendations of this committee led to the establishment of PTAD to report to the Office of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance. 

In 2013, the President approved the establishment of the Department and the appointment of a Director-General to head it. The Director– General spearheads the smooth evolution from the existing three- office arrangement to a single pension administration management department under the supervision of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM). In a circular issued on 30th October, 2013 by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Directors of the following offices were directed to report to the Director-General of the Pension Transition Arrangement Department (PTAD) with effect from 10th November, 2013:

• Civil Service Pension Office;
• Police Pension Office;
• Custom, Immigration and Prisons Pensions Office (CIPPO); and

• ThePension

Board of Trustees of Federal Government Parastatals. These pension offices were also directed to prepare detailed hand-over notes of activities, assets and liabilities to the Director-General.

The decision to divest the OHCSF of the Pension function did not go without resistance from those that sought to protect the status quo. Like the divestment of BPSR, some people saw it as weakening the power of the OHCSF. Some even voiced concerns that Bukar Goni Aji was giving up the only major “oasis” of resources that was open to the OHCSF. What they could not argue against was the logic, patriotism and professionalism of the decision. 

There is a need to focus on staff wellbeing, not just staff welfare. 

Staff HousIng Estates
Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji commissioned five housing estates built for public servants in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The building of the five estates was financed by the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board, an agency of the OHCSF. Alhaji Aji was gracious in naming the housing estates after his predecessors at their commissioning. The estates are named after Ambassador Abu Obe, Stephen Oronsaye, Isa Bello Sali and Prof. Oladapo Afolabi. Other estates had previously been named after Ms Ama Pepple and Ms Ebele Okeke. 

Under heavy pressure from his civil servants, Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji reluctantly agreed that the fifth housing estates could be named after him, only once his tenure as Head of Service expired. The completion of the staff housing project was made possible through the setting up of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company that was launched on 16 January 2014. 

At that event, the Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory requested the HCSF, Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji, to ensure that the government secured the large expanse of land along Kubwa Road which was provided by the Federal Capital Territory in 2011 for the provision of mass housing for workers in the FCT. 

Alhaji Goni Aji thanked President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for the giant strides in the promotion of welfare services to public servants. As part of the continuous efforts to solve the housing problems of civil servants, nearly 20,000 Federal civil servants have benefited from the staff housing loan scheme of the Federal Government. The next step is to take necessary action to secure the land along Kubwa Road to provide more residential houses for civil servants in the FCT. 

As part of the corporate social responsibility of the OHCSF to ameliorate the hardship faced by public servants with regards to their welfare, Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji embarked on a number of measures to improve the wellbeing of public servants. Some of these simply accelerated the plans of his predecessors, while others were brand new initiatives such as the follow; 

Provision of staff buses
- Staff training and development
- Review of the group life assurance policy
- Supporting People with disability

Extracts in PART 6 -  Making the Civil Service More Efficient and Supporting wider public service reforms. Concluding extracts in Part 7 will be 'Who, really is Alhaji Bukar Goni  Aji?


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