Mr. Wasiu Oladele is an old pensioner who still engages in consultancy services as means of keeping body and soul together. He spoke to Matthew Otoijagha about his thoughts on the current CPS pension scheme and the need for the young to plan a safety net for oneself in old age. Excerpts:
What is your name and when did you retire?
My name is Mr. Wasiu Oladele. I retired from the federal ministry of Housing in 1996. Looking at the way things are going right now in the country and with the nation’s level of inflation, workers have no option than to plan for their retirement in order to have alternative sources of income; just in case things don’t work out as expected.
I came here to the Nigeria Union of Pensioners to see what they can do for me. I have explained my problems to them and they have promised to assist with my pension. I have done all the verification as required, and I’m hoping that this time things will work out right.
But I’m not depending on pension alone. I still engage in so many businesses, sometimes, I don’t so much look at the pension. As a retiree, most of what I do now, I initiated them after retirement.
What is your experience in retirement like?
I did not plan for my retirement until I found myself out of employment and discovered I was not yet tired. When I realized that, I started looking for what to do.
I was used to getting up and going to work. All of a sudden, I found myself at home every day. All my children are all grown up and there is no one at home to talk to. I told myself that if I don’t start doing something fast, I may start hallucinating.
What would you like to tell the younger generation about pension?
I will like to advise workers to consider current happenings in states where workers and pensioners are owed salaries, for months, as a pointer to the fact that if they do not plan for their retirement they would live to regret it later.
Since last year, I read in the press that states have been battling to pay workers salary and pension, a development that forced pensioners to stage several demonstrations to protest non-payment of their entitlements.
Between last year and this year, pensioners have staged protest in many states to press home their demands. Workers need to attend retirement planning workshops to learn how they can plan for their retirement.
I would like to say that if a worker’s retirement savings are broadly on track, the worker can still take steps to improve his sources of income at retirement. After taking steps to improve pension pot, workers can still develop themselves academically to venture into consultancy after retirement.
If workers develop themselves before retirement by adding to themselves more academic value, I’m sure after they retire, they can still be useful and people will still look out for them for their services. I would like to call on government to desist from engaging international consultants to solve simple problems that local retirees, with immense wealth of experience, can solve.
What is your assessment of the present CPS pension scheme?
It is said that no one knows where the shoe pinches more than the person wearing it. As an Accounting teacher, I used to discuss in class with my students issues pertaining to pension and gratuity of retired public servants in the country.
We thought that by making retirement benefits among the first charges against the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the Nigerian Constitution places great priority on the promotion of retired public officers’ welfare.
However, everyday reality seems to prove that our thinking was wrong. Media and eye-witness accounts have shown the hardships facing pensioners and their families, in addition to my personal experience after having joined the retirees club. Through my personal experience, I have come to know that there is a wide gap between the constitutional provision on pension and its implementation by political office-holders in reality.
Many of these pensioners owed by governments all over the country have unmet needs, ranging from housing, education and health. Many pensioners die while waiting for the payment of their benefits. The worst thing is that sometimes even the survivors of a deceased pensioner are subjected to unwarranted hardships before getting their predecessor’s benefits.
In the meantime, however, governments seem to give higher priority to funding projects that seek, from all indications, to draw popular acclaim and political prestige than goodwill from disempowered pensioners.
One of the attractions of the public service is the assurance of security of tenure and the expectation of benefits on retirement. That assurance comes in the form of the promise of pension and gratuity for public workers who retire after devoting the best part of their useful life to the state.
The promise gives public employees a sense of security that in old age, when they become frail and weak, a welfare package is there for them to fall back on. This may be one of the reasons why public servants hardly take life assurance policies believing that, on retirement, government will live up to its promise, and up to their expectations, and pay them their entitlements as and when due.
Sadly, in most cases, governments fail to deliver on their promises and retirees face various problems and untold hardships in terms of getting their benefits.