Retirement: The Dreaded Companion
Written by Idara Akan - 06/05/2016
As one works for a paid job for many years there will come a time of rest - the period of retirement. Retirement may involve leaving a paid job one has been engaged in for 10–35 years or more. In order to enjoy one's retirement period, it involves planning ahead one's working life. The retirement period should really be a period or stage in which an individual transits from working to earn money to a period in which money works for one.
According to a study published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited, results showed major hindrances to successful retirement included:
- Fear of retirement,
- unpreparedness for retirement,
- having little or no savings,
- owing of debts before retirement,
- having too much of financial commitment,
- negative attitude to retirement.
Some of the measures for promoting satisfactory and enjoyable retirement included:
- Understanding the concepts/purpose of retirement, planning and saving substantially ahead for retirement,
- seeing retirement as a period of reward when one does not work for money but when money works for one;
- Getting good ideas from older retirees;
- Adequate budgeting and purchasing only necessary items;
- taking up a less strenuous part-time or full-time job;
- Maintaining a healthy life style, (Exercising regularly, eating of balanced diet and keeping to principles of hygiene).
It was recommended that workers should be retirement-conscious right from when they take up their appointment. They should plan and save ahead for retirement. Those who are about to retire should develop positive attitude towards retirement period and retirement education should be given to workers and retirees.
However, retirement in Nigeria has become a permanent nightmare courtesy of our inept and kleptomania like ran governments at all tiers. Every single working class person is a potential pensioner. It is not enough to say that we are not involved; someday we would directly or indirectly.
Time and again we have been inundated on the plights of several pensioners ranging from civil servants to military men. On several occasions, we have read that pensioners are owed several months of pension arrears with no hope for immediate payment. We have read of how pensioners die as a result of stress during the verification exercises as organized by our inept government.
Most Nigerians who are old now did not prepare for old age. In their youth, farming and trading were the dominant occupations; there was no structure for pension plans. Those who were well off in their heyday were able to provide good education for their children. In most cases, these people are now better off in their old age, even without a pension plan, because their children are in the financial positions to care for them. But the majority, who were just peasant farmers or small time traders, were forced to spend all their income on their sustenance, without being able to save anything for old age.
In most parts of Africa, the cultural customs and social system expect children to care of their parents in their old age, to provide food and health care and even take them in. Most Nigerians believe that children receive blessing from God when they make efforts to care for their aged parents and make them happy. But the reality is that, in most cases, the now grown-up children are struggling to keep financially afloat; caring for the parents is a huge challenge.
Abdul Hassan, a civil servant residing in Abuja, shows how hard it is for children to be the sole financiers for their parents: “I send 10,000 naira (the equivalent of about $ 70) to my parents every month. Luckily, they live in the family house in the village; so there is no need to pay for accommodation. But I also pay their house-help 2,000 naira monthly,” he explains. “I wish I could do more, but I live in Abuja with the crazy rents. I have a wife and two children to provide for, all out of my meagre monthly salary of 140,000 naira.”
In Nigeria, the retirement age is 65 years – or after 35 years in service, but this applies only to the public sector. Old people who worked for private multinationals and banks have always enjoyed pensions, unlike their peers who worked for the government. But many who used to work for other private organisations were not covered by any pension schemes.
Though the government does have a pension scheme for retired civil servants, the beneficiaries almost never get their money because of corruption. Most are even lucky to access their gratuities. There are reports of pensioners collapsing from fatigue brought on them from years of neglect while queuing up to collect their pensions. Led by the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), pensioners regularly gather in groups to protest non-payment or delay in release of their benefits.
Although some improvements have been made, Nigeria still has a long way to go to ensure that its senior citizens spend their old age with a sense of belonging and enough to live on.
1. Ugochukwu Obiakornobi Anieto, Retirement In Nigeria: Relish Or Anguish?, http://www.focusnigeria.com/retirement-in-nigeria.htm., 6/5/2016
2. Damilola Oyedele, No rest in retirement, http://www.dandc.eu/en/article/nigeria-many-old-age-pensioners-have-not-enough-live , 6/5/2016
3. B Imonikebe, Effective measures towards satisfactory and enjoyable retirement period in Nigeria, http://spcare.bmj.com/content/1/1/96.2.abstract , 6/5/2016