By Henry Uche, [email protected]    

fear of retirement in Nigeria is one that many active employees often have to contend with. 

Life after retirement can be challenging. To many, it is a time worth reminiscing as they enjoy the fruits of their labour; while to some, it is a time of regret that could lead to depression. But experts say the way to navigate this phase of life depends on preparation.

With the way Nigerian retirees are treated both by some Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs) and the government, some, especially those in the public sector have been accused of being involved in fraudulent activities, which is claimed that they use to prepare for their retirement.

No doubt, the perpetual plight of pensioners in Nigeria has aggravated instincts for sharp practices across board, particularly in government establishments. The apprehension breeds dishonesty, stealing, avarice and cheating on employers’ time and other resources.

Nowadays, many informed civil and public servants have decided not to be involved in protest for the payment of retirement benefits as could be seen across different states. Cases abound where these senior citizens slump, while some die in the process of fighting for their retiremnet benefits. For the fear of the unknown (after retirement), public servants have been exposed by anti graft agencies for engaging in embezzlement of public funds and other forms of sharp practices just to save for ‘the rainy day’.

Analysts believe that if employers, especially the government at all levels, do what the law stipulates regarding the payment of retirement benefits, there would be little  incentives for civil servants  to engage in theft of public funds.

Recently, pensioners who retired from the federal civil service, threatened a nationwide protest following the failure of the federal government to pay their benefits.

These pensioners, under the aegis of Federal Civil Service Pensioners, an affiliate of the National Union of Pensioners, expressed disappointment at the inability of the President Bola Tinubu- led administration to pay their retirement benefits.

Recall that Tinubu, in his October 2023 Independence Day speech, announced that his administration would pay the sum of N35,000 to active workers and N25,000 to pensioners as wage awards pending the conclusion of negotiations on a new minimum wage.

At the moment, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) is asking for N615,000 as minimum wage.

Retirees have often had to ask why employers of labour- especialgovernments at all levels would choose to relegate senior citizens who have contributed to the growth and development of the country by denying them their retirement benefits.

A retiree lamented, “Without mincing words, we feel constrained to let  the world know the excruciating pain and agony we have been subjected to over the years by the same government we served diligently with our youthful blood and without blemish, only to be abused, marginalised, neglected and dehumanised after sapping our energy, leaving us dejected and consigned to rot and death.”

Experts in insurance and pension  gathered at the maiden edition of the 2024 Inspenonline Retirement Summit held in Lagos, to address this issue and suggest ways in which people can enjoy their retirement.   At the summit, they noted that, with the current state of the economy, pension contributions alone cannot guarantee better life in retirement and those who rely on their contribution during retirement will live a miserable life.

They advised workers across the country to diversify their retirement plans and always set aside funds from their salaries for Additional Voluntary Contribution (AVC) or purchase an endowment policy in insurance companies to augment whatever that may be coming from CPS monthly stipend, even as hyper- inflation continues to erode the value of commodities and services.

With the theme, “Promoting Retirement Without Tears Through Insurance and Pension,” they agreed that workers should negotiate retirement plans with their employers the same way they negotiate their salaries. They equally advised everyone to search for their purpose in life and start planning towards it at an earlier stage of their working life, so that, at retirement when they want to make it a full time business, the transition would be seamless.

Delivering a keynote address, the managing director, ZER Consulting Africa Ltd, Ms. Adeolu Adewumi-Zer, urged workers to identify their passion early in life and invest in it at retirement.

She said that retirement isn’t just about what is in one’s bank account, nor is it about which pension payment option or insurance product one has but it’s about crafting a fulfilling future that transcends one’s work identity.

To her, planning for retirement and/or new chapters goes beyond just financial security. It is about cultivating a vision for a fulfilling future that extends beyond one’s career.

Adewumi-Zer said,  “As you approach retirement, what will define you beyond your work? How and who will you continue to influence? This is what I call ‘unleashing resilience’. It’s about adapting, growing and finding new ways to thrive even after we step away from our traditional careers.”

She said that retirement could be a time of unexpected change, but how one copes with the reality depends on the individual She noted that instead of feeling adrift, one could use the period as an oppourtunity to redefine oneself. “Imagine crafting a fulfilling future that extends beyond your career, filled with activities and connections that bring you joy and purpose. With an ideal initiative, you can. You need strategies to navigate this inevitable identity shift, building new social networks and taking concrete steps to design a vibrant and fulfilling retirement.

“To transition into this exciting next chapter, when one feels a bit like a fish out of water, when you first retire, you need to find your new groove. Studies show many retirees experience a kind of identity crisis in the early years of retirement. They miss the structure, the daily challenges and the sense of accomplishment that routine work provided.

“Retirement isn’t the end of your journey, it’s a chance to rewrite your purpose. Think about the skills you’ve honed throughout your career – leadership, problem-solving, communication – these are valuable assets beyond the typical workplace. It’s time to broaden our horizons and craft a game plan to use our skills for a personal mission and continue to make a positive impact.”

She maintained that prospective retirees should deepen their existing skills by going creative in writing, painting, music, photography etc – as the possibilities seems endless. More so, they could share their vast knowledge with the world around them. They could also volunteer as mentors for young professionals in their field or get involved with organisations that connect seasoned professionals with aspiring entrepreneurs.

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“Exploring online oppourtunities and developing new skills for learning and teaching, just for the sheer joy of learning and marketing could be exciting at retirement age.

“Retirement is a time to contribute to your community through volunteering service delivery. It’s most valuable since you have gathered a wealth of knowledge. We must not forget, at retirement we can do freelancing, consultancy, and even role modeling because the younger generation looks up to you. So, it’s not a time to regret if you made impact in people. It is a chance to reinvent yourself and relishing your newfound freedom,” she said.

Adewumi-Zer said that a well-crafted financial plan is the cornerstone of a happy and fulfilling retirement which removes the financial worries that can cloud one’s golden years and allows one to focus on what truly matters – living the best life and impart the next generation.

“Financial planning empowers and allows you to pursue the passions and activities that bring you the most joy and fulfillment in retirement, without the constant worry of financial constraints. The earlier you start, the easier it will be to achieve that plan. Seek professional guidance to actualise the ideal retirement lifestyle you deserve, but don’t forget to factor in inflation in your retirement timeline.

“It’s not a  time to start diminishing but a time to embrace personal transformation as you plan for the future. Explore your passions, reconnect with loved ones and consider ways to contribute your skills and knowledge to the world.

“Retirement is not just about going home to live comfortably, but also to unleash their inner light and illuminate the world with your knowledge, skills and experience. As you retire from your job, never retire from your passions. The greatest adventures await you in this next chapter,” she said.

The former Director General, Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC), Mrs. Folashade Onanuga, said that employers of labour must inculcate retirement trainings for employees so that they can be financially independent in retirement.

She urged retirees as well as workers to cut down their expenses by focusing mainly on what they need and not what they want.

“You need financial discipline at retirement because your pension contributions alone cannot give you comfort in retirement. Don’t live above your limit, don’t live within your limit, but live below your limit, such that, you can cope with financial pressure that comes with retirement,” she advised.

Similarly, the managing director/CEO, Universal Insurance Plc, Mr. Ben Ujuatuonu said, those who start work earlier in life has a lot of opportunities to plan retirement early, adding that, 5 years to retirement, one should have concluded and finalised on what business to do at retirement.

Similarly, the Managing Director/CEO, Sanlam Life Insurance, Mr. Tunde Mimiko, urged workers to envision the life they want to live in retirement and should avoid situation where their current life is defined by carrier alone, adding, “pursue your passion, build a network of long lasting friends as they will be instrumental in your retirement life, don’t let your life be defined by your current position, it’s transient and derive fulfillment in whatever you decide to do.

“You need a financial plan to pursue your dream future or life in retirement, don’t let your children be your insurance, sow your own financial seed, be disciplined, get insurance policy to cover some risks to limit expenses and don’t retire from your passion,” he stressed.

For the Rector, College of Insurance and Financial Management (CIFM), Dr. Chizoba Ehiogu, every worker must pay attention to their health while still active because a healthy body is needed to retire without tears.

“Don’t rush into a business or investment you don’t have enough experience in. When you retire, it should be the beginning of another journey to drive your passion, remember your health is a top priority,” she advised.

The chairman, Association of Pension Desk Officers in government parastatals, Mr. Nze Peter Nze, lamented that the meagre salary package of civil servants in Nigeria cannot give them life without tears in retirement. He urged insurance companies to conceptualise projects for civil service and government retirees, affirming that, his group is ready to partner insurance industry on this.

The former executive director, Leadway Assurance Company Limited, Ms Adetola Adegbayi said, inflation rate is growing speedily and, ‘if you have any investment below this, you are going to retire poor. Hence, you can buy a Financial Endowment policy with insurance companies.

Urging Nigerians to strike away the mentality of being dependent on an employer for survival after retirement, she added that, “we always look for who to pay us. Why not you pay someone to circulate the capital? Circulate your capital within your rural communities by engaging in projects that can develop our rural areas. Do businesses and employ people, contribute to the wellbeing of the people within your rural community and by that, you are circulating wealth.

“Let’s be intentional about the good juices (passion) that God has blessed us with and develop it. Adopt humility, circulate your money so that your dependents and your community can benefit your presence.”

She urged people to pay tax such that they can always query tax authorities when tax payment aren’t working for taxpayers, stating that, this is what advanced countries does.

On his part, the former Managing Director/CEO, FBN Insurance Limited (now Sanlam Life), Mr. Val Ojumah, said, life in retirement depends on relationships one kept while one was working, saying, the awful part of retirement is loneliness.

While advising people on how to retire without tears, Ojumah, who is now a retiree, said: “Those who retire in tears are those who never acknowledge that they will retire one day, while in service. Don’t choose expensive passion, but moderate your passion with some reality checks, try to buy health insurance, don’t start any business you are not familiar with, buy an endowment plan when you are still working. Integrate with the community.”

Chairman of the event, a past President Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, Fatai Lawal, implored the public to give adequate consideration to retirement as it would come whether they prepare or failed to prepare for it.

The promoter of the summit and the publisher/CEO, Inspenonline, Mr. Chuks Udo Okonta, stressed that, the summit was conceptualised from findings that revealed most people enter into retirement unprepared, hence, a forum to prepare Nigerians for retirement earlier in their working life.

The summit came to an end with a call to action, urging attendees to take proactive steps towards crafting their dream retirements. Whether it’s seeking financial advice, pursuing a new hobby, or reconnecting with old friends. Participants were encouraged to embrace the limitless possibilities that retirement offers and embark on a transformative journey fueled by their passions and experiences. But most importantly, those who have not retire yet, should remember that retirement must come, it’s inevitable, whether as an independent business person or an employee of another. And we must be cautious of how we treat subordinates, even the poor in the society- by virtue of our position or material wealth, because at retirement, you or your children may need them.