Adetayo Musari is a retiree who worked and retired from the Lagos state civil service. In this interview with Matthew Otoijagha, he says retirees do not have to beg for pension as it is their right. He also speaks on major issues affecting pensioners in the country and how pension unions could help to champion the cause of retirement and pension in the country. Excerpts:
Where did you work and what is your name?
My name is Adetayo Musari. I worked with Lagos state ministry of establishment. I retired in 2004 then as an Administrative Officer
What is your assessment of retirement in Nigeria?
There are gaps existing between the life of a retired person and what it is supposed to be. That gap has meant that retirees, who are supposed to enjoy the last segment of their lives because of what they have done in the last 30 or 40 years find it very difficult to make both ends meet simply because arrangements have not been adequate for them to sit back at retirement and enjoy their lives.
These gaps are from both the retirees as well as from the authorities. Not much in terms of education and enlightenment has been given to workers that a day will come when they will exit the formal employment and be responsible for the management of their own affairs without expecting a formal salary.
The retiree has on his own part has the responsibility of ensuring that he takes cognizance of the fact that a day will come when he will exit and take care of his life. On the part of the government, it is supposed to design policies that will help the retired employees to live good lives when they retire.
The typical mindset of young people to pensions is that it is something older people worry about and as such they are not concerned about it. What are your thoughts on this?
It is best to start saving for retirement when one is young. With moderate contributions set aside monthly, one can save for retirement and avoid carrying a heavy financial burden in old age. Young people have an excellent opportunity to start building up their retirement fund from their youth rather than carry the burden in their old age.
In your opinion, to what extent have Nigerian professionals embraced the contributory pension system?
As a result of the statutory nature of the contributory pension scheme (CPS) compliance has generally been good among blue chip employers where many professionals work.
When exactly is a worker supposed to start planning for retirement?
From the day you enter the service you are supposed to start planning for retirement knowing that someday you will retire. Preparation for retirement starts from day one at work.
Preparation is important because even though you are on pension, the pension may not necessarily be as robust as the salary. But, if carefully planned what you earns from the first day on the job, things will be better. There will be a sunset and that sunset needs to be planned and planned properly.
There are clamours for upward review of the lump sum paid to retirees on the contributory pension scheme to 75 per cent from the current less than 50 per cent. What is your take on this?
There will always be clamour because people normally have their own thinking on how government should operate. But government is handicapped by so many things. But, this has to be studied before commenting on.
Retirement and pension are serious issues in Nigeria? What is your take on the bureaucracies that impede easy access to retirement benefits for retirees?
It is a matter of management. Most of these things are not properly managed and once they are not properly managed, you will have issues. The authority has its own part of the challenge, and the individual also has his. This can be solved by talking to the authority as well as the recipient to cushion the problem so that there will be a win-win situation between the retiree and the authority.
In addition to this, there is very good compliance by professional services firms across the country, and in the federal public service. Some States are also at different levels of implementation and have therefore embraced the scheme.
What is your advice to Nigerians that are skeptical about the security of the funds in their pension accounts and if they will be able to access the funds at the right time?
With regards to safety of pension contributions, there are numerous well-functioning safeguards and protections embedded in the enabling legislation, as well as regulations issued by the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), to ensure the safety of pension contributions.
For example, there is a clear separation of roles between pension fund administrators (PFAs) and pension fund custodians (PFCs), which means custody of the funds is separate from management. Of note, since inception of the contributory pension scheme over 12 years ago, there has been no single instance of fraud or inability to meet obligations to contributors.