Nigerian workers and retirement woes

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Over the years, experience has shown that Nigerian workers don’t enjoy their retirement years. Instead, they endure the years, not on account of old age, but because the little that is due to them hardly comes to them when it should.

Oftentimes, it seems as if it is a curse retiring from active service to one’s fatherland. As bad as it is now, it is expected that the retirement situation in Nigeria could get worse with time as the ageing workforce is becoming increasingly visible in government, businesses, politics and even in sports.

It is always a pitiable sight when one sees an otherwise well-fed government official, sports man, especially footballers, and politicians who have left their ‘plump’ pay and flamboyant lifestyle, looking haggard.

In their bid to maintain their living standard and opulent lifestyle, they quickly exhaust their savings and whatever they leave office with as gratuity or pension where available. This immediately shows in their looks—frail, hungry, and pale with flabby skin. Ageing makes all these worse.

In their bid to maintain their living standard and opulent lifestyle, they quickly exhaust their savings and whatever they leave office with as gratuity or pension where available. This immediately shows in their looks—frail, hungry, and pale with flabby skin. Ageing makes all these worse

Some politicians are lucky, especially those who serve as state governors. Apart from the enormous wealth they amass by stealing public funds, they craftily work their state assemblies into legislating life pensions for them. But this is obtaining by guise, which our statutes condemn.

It is painful to note that many employees, politicians, entrepreneurs and the unemployed normally live more than 20 years after retirement age of 60 years, but suffer from issues bordering on sustainability of well-being, livelihood, lifestyle, status, and social demands.

For retirees from government civil service, the pain is deeper. This explains why, a couple of weeks ago, some of them under the aegis of Federal Civil Service Pensions (FCSP), Lagos State branch, protested non-payment of pensions among other challenges they encountered.

Many of them with their weak legs and frail hands, marched to the Lagos office of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), the agency in charge of payment of the Federal Government’s pensioners. They called out the government to promptly respond to their plight.

Their anger was that “since September 2017 verification exercise, countless number of pensioners are yet to be on PTAD payroll till date,” and this was contained in their protest letter jointly signed by the chairman, FCSP, Arashi Lawal, and state secretary, Abiodun Michael.

The fact that the longer the time spent in retirement, the harder it becomes to be certain about the adequacy of resources to keep the livelihood and lifestyle going, deepens the plight of retirees.

We are deeply worried with the outcome of a survey in Lagos among a cluster of entrepreneurs and older adults. The survey reveals that the majority of people do not have enough to meet and maintain their standard of living, particularly livelihood now that Nigeria is in an era of uncertainty, increasing inflation and harsh economic environment.

A follow-up survey that took its sample size from a community of business men and women quotes the respondents as saying that they would only be willing to grow and expand their businesses at the expense of retirement planning. Some of them even said that the only motivating factor that can increase their confidence in retirement is if their businesses succeed.

Expectedly, one of the key findings in the survey was that only a fraction of businesses were aware of the importance of pension and retirement plans, such that it was a stiff struggle identifying businesses with adequate arrangements of pension for staff, owner manager or the business operator.

Godwin Onyema, a social commentator, notes that many entrepreneurs are so busy growing their businesses that they put off planning for retirement. He adds that this growing trend is not only worrisome but disturbing. “Surprisingly, as important as a retirement plan is, ageing business owners and operators rarely consider it imperative,” he says. And we agree totally with this.

Read also: Uptake for retiree annuity gains traction as life expectancy increases

A little check easily reveals that many businesses, especially the self-employed, do not have retirement savings plans, and it is estimated that 40 percent of business owners in this class are not confident that they will be able to retire before the age of 65.

This explains why they care less about retirement plans either for themselves or their employees, hence our advice that individuals will need to have enough funds and assets that generate steady income, family support or investments saved to last even beyond 20 years.

This may be a tall dream, but with commitment, discipline, sacrifice and focus, it could be done. It demands self-denial and penance. If hunger has to be endured today so that there will be food on the table tomorrow, so be it. And that is our candid and humble advice to all and sundry.

The government at all levels and other employers of labour should be able to plan for their workers retirement because that is the most critical period of their lives and living.

In retirement, the future can be uncertain. But certain structures can prepare potential retirees for them. We advise that working towards retirement goals should begin today. There is a need to acquire skills that will last a lifetime. They can also choose to be part of things, teams, and ideas that last.

Time to do so is Now.