Recently in a lively discussions with my colleagues after attending pre-retirement training session organised by our employers to prepare us for life in retirement. one of our colleague could not hide his disdain why the trainers were asking us, what plan we have for life after retirement? I did not partake in the discussion. My take at that time was that haven attained the age of 60 years and spent 35 years of meritorious service and having been contributing to the National Pension Scheme. what else I do need to do.
At sixty I should be enjoying my retirement catching up the lost time with my children and grand children, taking some vacations and drawing gradually from my retirement benefit, little did I know that life in retirement would be struggle all over again.
Seven month into our retirement, PENCOM is yet to pay our benefits, the waiting game seems to be endless and frustrating.
Faced with this reality I started recalling, what our senior colleagues, were telling us during the pre-retirement training lectures. I realized their comments were really a veiled warning to us, so that we do not fall into the same predicament, anguish and the hell they went through. But because the warnings were not in plain language.We took the advice to mean, for somebody who had been struggling for 35 years and now find himself idle, boredom and some slight changes in life style may occur, which we have prepared ourselves.
But now with benefit of hindsight it is clear we didn’t get the message correctly.Actually the silent undertone of their warning was for us to use our current position to plan for life before the close of shop. Unfortunately the warning came a little too late in the day. With wages that barely takes care of your needs and that of your family. With little or nothing left for saving how could one plan for life during retirement at the twilight of his career.
what our senior colleagues did not tell us plainly and on time was for us to start planing early for life in retirement, while in service no matter what it takes to avoid falling into the vicious trap of misery and poverty they found themselves.
To understand where I am coming from I would like to share this anecdote with you, so that you would appreciate the import of this reflections. Just ponder on this basic truth. The highest non political position you would attain in Federal Civil Service is that of a Director.
And this is the gloomy life of a Federal Director. As a Director in the Federal Civil Service on salary grade level 17 on the last step, you earn a monthly salary slightly above five hundred thousand and by time all deductible were removed the net take home monthly salary would be N350,000 and it will remain so for whatever number of years you would remain in service. The net monthly take home could be much lower if the Director has furniture, housing or other loans allowed by the service.
The purpose of this discourse is not to scare my junior colleagues or encourage them to engage in unwholesome practices but to guide them to prepare early for retirement so that they are not caught up between the devil and deep blue sea. And also for them to understand that life after the public service is more challenging then what may be anticipated. It is withing this context and apparent dislocations in the system, that we shall understand why public officers fear retirement and why they employ tactics to ensure they remain in service or engage in some negative practices in order for life to be meaningful after retirement.
Any nation that does not take care of its young and its senior citizens is surely sawing the seed for its destruction, and this is where we found ourselves in Nigeria today. Corruption has become so endemic in fact it has reached the level of anorexia defying all solutions. The fear created by uncertainty, neglect and lack of appreciation of handwork and reward for good work, will continue to stunt our development aspirations as a nation.
No reform no matter how well intention it was, will wipe out or reduce the canker worm of the corruption as we are fighting it.
We must go back to the basics and re examine our processes, procedures, laws and practices. And align them to human needs other wise we shall continue chasing shadows.
Thomas Hobbes once said “life in a state of nature is short nasty and brutish”. The essence of human existence is to survive. And Man in order to survive will innovate and engage in unwholesome activities to survive. And unless we change the way we do things we may not achieved our desired goals as a nation.
In the so called developed world that we envy, they succeeded because they were able to make laws that are humane and they don’t compromise the lives for their citizens young or old.
To understand all these we need ask questions as to why are the lofty ideals embedded in the PENCOM Act and other similar reform programs are not achievable? Why are pensioners not accessing their retirement benefits on time in spite of the trillion of Naira we are made to understand the Commission has in its kitty. Why are we still having problems in the power sector, the Civil Service and even in the Communication sector which is adjudged to be fairly working.
To find answers to some of these questions we need to to reflect on why corruption is fighting the corruption agencies to a stand still
May God give us the wisdom to learn from our mistakes and correct them.