We live in a country that is seemingly insecure by the daily occurrences of ritual killing, Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen attacks allover the places. While we commiserate with the families of the departed in all of these crises; let those of us that are alive thank God for the gift of life. You are welcome and thanks for getting hooked to this column.
Our focus last week was on workable New Year resolutions for aspiring retirees of which you are one I’m sure. I had wanted very much to write a follow up on that but I guess that might have to be truncated because of certain realities at hand; how do I mean? I keep receiving mails on how retirement planning is difficult if not impossible; There are so many questions and puzzles to unravel via complains that I keep receiving from time to time and I’m so disturbed and sometimes awed at the expressions of some which include; is anything ever workable in Nigeria including retirement planning that we talk about on this page? Aren’t all these things we discuss applicable only in theories, are they really practicable? Can any New Year resolutions ever work in a country like ours where nothing seems to be working? Can any future projections ever come out as planned around here; whether in business, for retirement, children education or mortgage? This is a country where a highly corrupt and seeming spendthrift government would advice the populace to sacrifice. How can anyone plan in the midst of all of chaos? Is savings for retirement doable in a country with astronomic increase in the price of consumables without commensurate increase in income?
The questions aren’t over; just read on. Since the central bank of Nigeria introduced the cashless concept, has anyone sat to quantify the number of people that had been thrown out of employment including many aspiring retirees as this policy gets rooted? The Buhari government says it has removed subsidy and yet announced the payment of over N300billion as subsidy? What about the attendant high cost of living thereby leaving an average worker with lower purchasing power; so where does the saving and investment for retirement come from? How many people are even sure of keeping their jobs in any industry at all between now and December of this year at the rate at which companies are closing down? This is a country where internal debts owed to local suppliers and contractors to government at different levels are in trillion regardless of accruing interest from lenders? Where do the funds to invest come from when there are not even enough to keep body and soul together in the now? Why should even the future be the issue when one hasn’t taken care of the today? Do we even have any future at all in this country? You can see that the questions are just endless; I don’t want to say that I have all the answers but then, I guess I’m at liberty to tell you what and how I feel. Please note that my opinion might not necessarily tally with yours but I feel that if you and I are objective enough, we shall meet at a point when and where we agree to forge ahead and keep the friendship intact.
I strongly believe that there are always ways out of every quagmire so I make bold to unequivocally state here that the fact that these questions all run through your mind at intervals are reflections of the fact that you think and most probably an individual who have taken the time to analyse and seemingly understand the current situations of not just yourself but the country at large but there is a gauntlet here, a brick wall or limitation for which reason I will suggest that you do not allow the challenges you see overwhelm you for the tendencies are confusion and in some cases blindness to possible solutions if you are overwhelmed. In my opinion, the best way to live is to see challenges as temporary obstacles; whether tall as a Kilimanjaro or an Everest, always remember that these mountains had been conquered by men hence, there are ways out of all these that we can see and say about our nation Nigeria. Let’s tackle these entire issues one after the other. Is retirement planning possible in Nigeria? To this I will say yes and I will straightway tell you why I know so.
WHY IS PLANNING SEEMINGLY DIFFICULT NOW?
Planning seems difficult today because we most often never expected negative downturn of events and therefore live as if life is nothing more than bed of roses at an earlier stage. I have come to discover that opportunity will appear to every man at least once in a life time; what you do with yours will determine your next level. Flashing back at my younger years, I can say that before life became difficult in Nigeria, I know so well that life was so easy but how many people were able to utilise the benefits of those good old days to prepare for the present tough days? Definitely very few. I was sure young then but I heard the stories that before governments became irresponsible in Nigeria as we today have, governments were responsible so how well did the workers of those good old years plan for the present that we now see? Simply put, the consequences of the plans we failed to make when the governments were responsible, when the economy was vibrant, the period when the naira was valuable than the dollar are what we suffer today. The rents some of us pay today was because of the houses we had the opportunities to build years back when plots of land were selling at peanuts but we failed to buy to build; the penury of today are the consequences of the savings we ought to make yester years but failed to; the school fees we pay today with difficulty are the consequences of the family planning we should have done in years past but did not; some trek these days because of the old model cars they bought at the time they ought to still be trekking. Many business people complained today because their businesses are no
longer fetching as much as it used to but was that same, years down the line? The truth is that if you fail to utilise opportunities when it comes across your path, I’m sorry but subsequent planning might just have to take lots of discipline for that is what is required to scale through tough times brought about by indiscipline governance. I will yet tell your more.
Many that are jobless today even though active failed to improve on their level of qualifications or take up new professions when their line of operations were becoming obsolescence for example, if you were a technician with the old NITEL and their analogue systems, how relevant do you think you will be in the digital age of today? These are the people that complain because they failed to move in proportion with changes in their profession. It was in our Ondo state office that I saw many professional Journalists, some even with foreign professional certificates but never knew how to punch the keyboard of a computer so how can they cope in the modern trend in journalism? Many business owners are grumbling for lack of patronage simply because they have failed to fine tune that business concept to fit into the highly competitive trends of the modern day. How can you for God’s sake continue to do things same old ways and except new results? And to those of us, who were unfortunately born in this hard time, we would be failing ourselves if we sit at a corner and say retirement or planning for anything is impossible in Nigeria; my people say there is what to do when you don’t know what to do hence, what to do include adjusting to the realities of the day and yet plan no matter what. How?
If you think your current business is not fetching you enough, please re-strategise or change that business line; if you are out of job then create your own, if your pay is low and can’t carry you any longer then work to improve your pay or cut your expenses; think about it. Tough times require being tough to cope. We daily complain of no employments but how many in the job market are employable in the real sense of it? Didn’t the federal government recently give employment and even scholarship to a number of youth corps members? Those were those who excelled so if you excel, I know so well that the jobs are still waiting. I met a man of fifty six recently who had retired from government employment, went ahead and was employed as an executive director in a private organisation because of what he had to offer. This same old man was there working and earning good pay when he yet again secured a plum employment in a multi national organisation with huge benefits far higher than the previous or whatever he ever earned with the government regardless of his age disadvantage; this is happening to one individual at a time when many of his mates are on their ways back to the village, confused of what to do. No matter what, even now, people still work in government and private employments, many still run one form of business or the other and are still surviving. Planning will be much more difficult if we have irresponsible government in place and we at same time become irresponsible with ourselves. In other words, if the government fail us should we also fail ourselves? The ball is in your court. Think out of the box and you will see the possibilities all around. Let’s move forward.