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Life after Retirement in Nigeria: Shocking Revelations and What you may Likely Experience when you retire

Life after retirement in Nigeria is not always pleasant to many retirees. Read to discover the shocking revelations and what you may likely face when you retire in Nigeria.

Maybe this information will act as a source of inspiration to motivate you to start planning for retirement. There is no other perfect time to take action than now.

Retirement, whether voluntary or involuntary, is as inevitable as aging. The retirement age in Nigeria’s public sector, according to the reformed civil service decree No. 43 of 1988, is mandatorily set at 60 years or 35 years of service, whichever comes first.

The cliché that life is in phases is well-founded, but many tend to downplay the phase in which we all have to quit and disengage from the workforce or public roles eventually, owing to age or other similar issues. And there is a certain disposition to panic as you get closer to this particular phase of life, especially when you are not prepared for it.

Most Nigerian workers are afraid of retirement and whatever circumstances it brings forth. Instead of seeing retirement as a threat, it is advisable to take it rather as an issue of interest that worths researching and preparing for, financially, psychologically, and otherwise.

An attempt to research the living conditions of retirees in Nigeria may, most likely, lead to an emotional rollercoaster. Because deep down we know that the situations of these retired old citizens extend beyond what the media sugarcoat them to be. Here we have compiled some of the notable cases of public and private sector retirees suffering in Nigeria. The intention is not to dig up wounds for the fun of it, but to influence change by calling on the government and/or the public to look into this quagmire and surmise practical measures to remedy it.

Also, in bringing this information to the public, we are hoping that younger employees realize how pertinent it is to begin early to make retirement plans which do not entirely depend on the government.

Life after retirement in Nigeria; what you may likely face when you retire after all.

Life after Retirement in Nigeria: Shocking Revelations and What you may Likely Experience when you retire

Retirement represents separate things to separate people.

But generally, life after retirement is supposed to be a smooth one. It should be exciting and something to look forward to, in which you just relax and enjoy the yields from your youthful toils.

Unfortunately, this is not usually the case, especially in a country like Nigeria. You, as a Nigerian retiree, are likely to face what we have summed up here as Post-retirement Disillusionment.

Post-retirement disillusionment is the overwhelming realization after retirement that retirement is entirely not what you expected or believed it to be. This is often accompanied by feelings akin to depression, angst, frustration, and financial anxiety.

After retirement, you will likely face the hard truth that Nigerian retirees are not well catered for. We have had cases where pensioners are not being paid their pensions for months. This irregular disbursement of the pension funds is a prominent one out of the numerous retirement issues you may likely face.

There are also cases where pensioners have been stampeded upon, injured, and even died owing to the hassles during verification exercises organized by the corrupt systems. All of these commotions may likely plunge the retiree, especially the retiree who is also a breadwinner, into moments of distress, boredom, physical and mental dissociation.

Irregular and unpaid retirement benefits; the anxiety that comes with it.

This is one of the obvious ways retirees suffer in Nigeria. There are notable cases of the federal and state governments owing retirees arrears that span a considerable period of time. In 2019, Premium Times Nigeria reported that the federal government owed federal retirees N400 billion over accrued arrears.

And in 2018, a retiree, Onyebuchi Onyeikegbulam who had worked as a TV / Radio presenter for a government media house in Imo state told BBC News how the state government was owing pensioners 36 months (three years) pension and gratuity. Similarly, the Concerned Abia Pensioners lamented how their unpaid gratuities had accumulated for 19 years as pensions were not harmonized between 1998 and 2010 by the State government.

This unsteadiness in paying pension and gratuity has plunged a good number of Nigerian retirees into long-term anxiety. A good number of them die without enjoying the fruit of their labour.

Over a phone-call conversation, 74-year old Mr. Onah Joseph, who previously worked as a local government clerk, from Ihe Owerre in Nsukka local government area Enugu state, explained his anxiety about retirement to us.

“My major worries about retirement had always been about my family. I was so concerned about my children, considering that money won’t be coming as it used to and things I will usually provide with ease will be scrapped.”

Mr. Onah Joseph’s case is only one out of the many we engaged in a conversation. Closer attention to the plights of retirees will reveal that about 75% suffer anxiety and mental apprehension at certain points in their retirement. Mr. Onah went on to share with us how social expectations also deranged him.

“There was the social expectations that come with it. My brothers keep coming for some shares of what I have worked for all my life. It’s so disturbing that when you refuse to compromise, they tag you stingy.”

Aside from irregular disbursement of pension and the anxiety that comes with that, retirees are made to pass through rigorous retirement verifications/screenings. It is unfortunate that the government has not devised a steady and accurate retirees record-keeping so far. And frequently, retirees have yanked off their pension houses and wheeled to verification centres where they are meant to stay in the sun or rain waiting for their turns, and sometimes there are no officials to attend to them even.

As in the picture above, there are usually no provisions for seats for them at these centres.

“This is too bad for our age. Some of us cannot even work and were brought here by their grandchildren. How do you expect them to cope with this kind of punishment meted out to senior citizens?” Ntufam Mike Etim told Guardian Nigeria during one of those back-breaking screenings in Cross River, Calabar.

Retirees were also made to stand in long queues during collections of pension. The hassles and struggles that exude as a consequence have caused so many deaths. Mr. Onah Joseph further told us about his friend who died during such hassles.

“The stress and frustration of getting your pension now are really tiring and scary. Considering how my friend, Papa Ejike (Mr. Ogbu) died because of the long hours of waiting for his turn to receive his pension”

“Do not starve us to death;” starving pensioners cried.

Most Nigerian retirees are poverty-stricken. To afford a regular meal and pay for health care services has become extremely difficult for them. Sometimes, they take to the streets to protest carrying placards:

“Do not starve us to death,” one said.

“Pension is a legitimate right and not a privilege,” another said.

Recently, Imo pensioners have taken to the streets to protest the non-payment of their pension arrears for four months. Dan Agbese in an article written for Guardian, opined that Imo pensioners are luckier than some of their counterparts in other states of the federation, stating that in his home state, Benue, “the arrears are as high as 27 or more months.”

The ICIR has investigated and uncovered tons of pathetic stories of retirees falling from grace to grass after their retirements. Most of the time, to survive, Nigerian retirees subscribe to hard labours like farming to survive, and some others take to the streets to beg.

The question every patriotic citizen has been asking is, why do the appropriate authorities choose to treat our senior citizens like trash? Meanwhile, in the Nigeria constitution, chapter 6, part 2, section 210, and subsection 2, the law states that any benefit to which a pensioner is entitled to shall not be withheld or altered to his disadvantage. But Nigeria has probably been making laws that escape executions since forever.

Nigeria retirees are constantly battling pension fraud and corrupt systems.

On Friday 4th of December 2020, Justice Okong Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, gave an order that the former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) be remanded arrested by EFCC over an alleged embezzlement of N2 billion pension fund. This is just one of the many cases in which corrupt leaders have been accused of pension fraud in Nigeria. Similar to Maina, John Yusuf stole N32.8 billion police pension money.

All these and more have been what retirees in Nigeria have had to put up with.

What’s the way out?

Candid advice from me is: start now and have a solid plan for retirement. The government has failed us and there is no hope they will take any of our recommendations.

Planning for retirement in Nigeria

It is as a result of these problems associated with retirement in Nigeria which makes it seem like the end of a road, that we have gone ahead to compile some key factors to consider while drawing your retirement plan. Please note that the best retirement plan is one that does not rely entirely on the government.

Retirement planning means simply to set long-term retirement goals, and employing feasible strategies to achieve those goals.

Think of retirement plans as similar to other life plans you have made and will still make. Say, you have sat and passed the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (Jamb) entrance examination, and gotten admission into one of the country’s most prestigious universities. While in school, you begin to think and plan towards what you desire to achieve in life after graduation.

When you must have outlined your goals, you begin to carve out steps to help you attain those goals. You may begin to build connections, acquire extracurricular skills, pursue your Masters degree, and arm yourself with such confidence that the labour market will have no reason to ignore you. Planning for retirement takes a similar course.

A good plan for retirement must begin from your very first employment to the last employment. Do not pit yourself into thinking that there is a certain age to reach before you begin to make plans for retirement. Younger workers are more inclined to neglect the inevitability of retirement, and they begin to make plans only when it is almost upon them.

It should be noted that whatever you face after retirement depends so much on how well-prepared you were for it. The best retirement plan, therefore, ought to start with your very first employment, and yes, there is no better time than right now, if you hope to smoothly scale through the problems of retirement in Nigeria. We will quickly take you through some issues you are likely to face after retirement, and then present some factors to consider while planning your retirement to abstain from its dark sides.

Factors to consider while planning for retirement in Nigeria

It is true that retirement planning is different for different people. However, there are some key factors everyone should consider  while preparing their retirement plans. Taking these factors into consideration may make for a better retirement plan.

1. Envisage the type of retirement you want.

This is the first step. Do you want a voluntary retirement, in which case you make up your mind to retire in your own timing and in your own terms. Or do you want an obligatory retirement, where you work until you attain the constitutionally imposed age of retirement, which is 60 years, or 35 years of service in most cases. In addition to the type of retirement, you also have to envision exactly what you want to do and how you want to spend your life after retirement. Do you want to travel around the world, do a part-time work, relocate to a new city, or carry out charity services? You have to write them out. It is not enough to just think, write them out, draft out the goals. Possibly, you could hire a planner for this.

2. Be objective

Do not live in a make-believe world if you love yourself and want to have a thrilling and stress-free life after retirement. Make feasible goals and draft practical steps to attain those goals.

Take into consideration your current income sources, and adjust your retirement visions, if need be, to match your resources. There is no need of going all out and huge with your plans, when you barely earn peanuts as salaries. Adjust your plans, get better paying jobs, invest, and cut down on your current expenses.

3. Engage yourself in pre-retirement programmes.

Most Nigerians ignore the need for pre-retirement trainings, and most of Nigerian employers including the government generally do not even provide training opportunities for employees to get acquainted with the whats, whys and hows of retirement.

It is, therefore, advisable that you look for pre-retirement programmes to engage in even if it is outside your workplace. The internet has shrunk the world into a portable entity. You can take online courses related to retirement planning, read articles and get enough information to help you plan your retirement effectively. This way you will avoid so many problems associated with post-retirement life.

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Onyinyechi Okorie

Onyinyechi Okorie is a content developer at InfoGuideNigeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria team comprises Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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