Mr. Ogunleye Arikawa retired in 2006 after working with SPARK, a private company for over many years. After retirement, Arikawa went into private consultancy business to keep himself busy. He spoke to Matthew Otoijagha on his experience in retirement, as well as other pension issues. Excerpts:
What was the feeling like when you realized that your retirement was approaching?
I may claim that my experience has been a different one right from the day I went for verification at the National Pension Commission. People asked me what was giving me joy retiring young, I told them I was grateful to God having spent 35 years in service, I am healthy and hearty. I told them I can still make use of myself. I won’t dump myself in one place and waste away.
What were the preparations you made in readiness for your retirement?
To some extent, I did. Honestly speaking, it never ended well. It was like I was over-ambitious. I wanted to do an importation, to be bringing in tyres.
When I traveled out of the country, incidentally, I saw a company that manufactures tyres. I compared the price they gave to me regarding the one that I am using. My car tyre, the Jeep, is N78, 000 for one.
So, I will not mention where I went to but on getting to that place, it was N18, 000. So, I decided that I would be bringing in tyres after my retirement. I prepared for it. I wanted to collaborate with someone but it didn’t work out. I lost the money.
That was one side of it. I knew I needed a home. So I was able to get a befitting place for myself and my family in my home town. I equally knew it would not be easy for me to go with uncertainty because when you are retiring you find out that you are being led by unknown faith.
What would have compounded my problem here would have been if I hadn’t had accommodation. So, I had to make one here. I was also interested in consulting but I never knew how I would go about it.
But providence had it that some people who worked with me, external agencies, brought me in after my retirement. So, I started working and it has been a very resourceful opportunity.
How was your pre-retirement verification with the PenCom and how long did it take for you to get your retirement benefits?
When I went for verification, we were asked to get there very early in the morning. When I got to that place around 7:30am, by 8:30am I had already completed my verification. Then I waited for about four months to get my pension.
Is your pension pot large enough to give you the kind of life you want at the moment?
No. It isn’t at all. I have to confess, it is frustrating. To tell you the trust, by the time you pay for a security man taking care of you house here and the one taking care of your home there, and then you pay electricity bills, the pension is gone.
How then do you argument your pension to survive?
Automatically, I have become a manager because realizing that the pension is meagre, I have been making the best use of the little resources I have been generating through consultancy. I have the privilege of working with SPARK, DFID, and ECOWAS. Any little thing that I get from there, I utilize it efficiently.
Are you satisfied with the present pension scheme in Nigeria?
Except that Nigeria is saturated, the way they plan the present pension scheme, it is not absolutely bad. The only problem we had was the lump sum you take. You have that privilege to go back to your service provider to obtain a loan to do whatever you want to do.
Of course, it has its rules and regulation and they can’t exceed 30 per cent of your savings to enable you survive. If because of the problem you have or your ambition, they give you everything, you may die in poverty.
What is your take over the last the PTAD verification exercise?
I followed wife, a pensioner of a parasternal for the last verification that took place in Lagos state. Though the exercise was better compared to previous ones, there is however, room for improvement considering that most pensioners are old and may not have the energy to withstand the rigour that such verification entails.
This last one is better compared to previous ones. Like I said, I’m on PenCom arrangement and not PTAD, but I went with my wife for the verification. My concern is in the area of their health.
As I saw many of them there, they are old, battling various ailments. They may not have the energy for the exercise, my advice is that those handling the verification exercise should make the process swift next time around.
I can also see that while pensioners under Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) regularly get increment, those under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) are denied the privilege of increment in pension.
Nevertheless, my monthly pension is paid promptly by my Pension Fund Administrator (PFA). I think their performance is better than what we have been witnessing.