By Benjamin Omoike
Lagos State Government has said that the Y2020 edition of its bi-annual verification exercise for its retired officials usually known as “I AM ALIVE”, will now be held virtually where an online Biometric and Facial Verification would replace the existing status quo.
Disclosing this on Tuesday at a Press Conference held in Alausa, Ikeja, the Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Mrs. Ajibola Ponnle, said that the new approach was in line with government’s efforts to reduce the effect of COVlD-19 pandemic in the state and in compliance with physical distancing rule and protocol.
This new initiative, according to her, represents a total departure from the usual verification exercise, where pensioners are expected to be physically present at their respective Local Government Areas for the verification exercise and revalidation of their documents.
She said, “The Y2020 online Biometric Verification Exercise of Pensioners will now be done in the Civil Service Pensions Office, with verification of all pensioners in batches of Local Government and Local Council Development Areas. Therein, selected staff will be assigned to conduct online interview from allocated telepoints/telecentres within the Office for respective pensioners based on their Local Government Area.”
“Let me also stress that optimal use of technology will form an integral part of Y2020 biometric verification exercise with the use of Zoom/Skype or any of the Cloud 1CT applications to replace the usual physical appearance of pensioners for the ”I Am Alive” validation session of the exercise.”
She explained that the modalities for the online verification involves pensioners using any of the specified online applications by this office to have access its officials to verify their documents and the fact that they are alive.
Ponnle who said that the Ministry does not anticipate any hitches with this process, added that “we are also not unmindful of the associated challenges with new initiatives especially technologically-driven ideas and as such we have plans in place to make the process seamless and orderly for our retirees.”
While seeking for the cooperation of all the relevant stakeholders concerned to make this first of its kind initiative achievable, the Commissioner assured the pensioners that due diligence would be ensured from the beginning of the exercise to the end, saying that they would be carried along regarding more sensitization in this regard.
Ponnle expressed confidence in the capacity of the staff of the Civil Service Pensions Office, CSPO. She said, “I want to thank the entire CSPO for this initiative and for their readiness to confront this daunting task. I am very confident that the staff are up to the task and would make a great success of the entire exercise at the end.”
The Commissioner, however, appreciated the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for his thoughtfulness and compassion for pensioners in the State, saying that the issue of covid-19 pandemic would have been an excuse to put the exercise on hold but the Governor, being a listening leader approved the exercise for the pensions in spite of other competing priorities of the State.