Sometime in April at Foursquare City, Ogun State, it was a great reunion with my friend who would always host me to sumptuous meals at his comfortable home in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital during my working days as a Federal Civil Servant in the twin states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River. He was in company of his friend. He made complimentary remarks on my appearance. To him, I looked good. For confirmation, he still asked, “how is retirement life?” I gave a quick response, “interesting: life in retirement is good”, I eloquently affirmed.
He was excited and heartily glad probably because my response had fulfilled or satisfied a purpose. It was a message of hope and encouragement. He turned to his friend and said, “can you hear that?” The man, who looked pitifully worried, just nodded in the affirmative without uttering a word. He said that I should let his friend know that life in retirement is not after all a death sentence.
In fact, life in retirement is supposed to be good as it is a time of comfort, peace and rest. For those of us who were privileged to occupy enviable positions or postings, it is indeed an end to malicious attacks, bitter envy and jealousy, destructive falsehood, it could be a cherished respite from boisterous and fastidious overlording principals (in respect of unity colleges), money-seeking auditors, stock-verifiers and inspectors.
Also, some of us who had early retirement could venture into new careers, business opportunities and having the rare honour of being in control of one’s time and destiny. For instance, on integrity and trust, I got two offers. I was magnificently offered the position of a secretary in a hotel consultancy firm where I received appreciable sitting allowance; and recently a Ghanaian university appointed me as its agent in Nigeria. Not everyone could be this lucky.
So certainly, the fear is real. An average civil servant is overwhelmed with the fear of retirement. How could one cope without earning a salary when there is a myriad of commitments: family commitments of feeding, paying children’s school fees and other bills; the community commitments of paying security and development levies and the church commitments of having enough money to attend programmes and remaining a faithful worker in God’s vineyard.
Painfully, the fear has been aggravated by the deadly conspiracy of delay by National Pension Commission Pension, Funds Administrators and some of their dishonest staff in releasing the retirement entitlements: “accrued rights”, gratuities and pensions. This delay is wicked and callous as it has caused untimely death of many retirees.
It is, unequivocally, a conspiracy as it is alleged that the delay is deliberate. It is aimed at sending retirees to their early graves so that these perpetrators would have possession of their gratuities and pensions.
By 1st July, it will be 12 months that my colleagues and I retired from the federal civil service. We are still expecting our gratuities and pensions. One year of waiting and we are still counting! Sad, very sad!.
How would these authorities explain this abysmal negligence? This conspiracy has not just started. Nigeria has been like this for years; a failed state. Things were equally bad under the People Democratic Party (PDP) led administration. People have argued that the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government should have taken proactive and drastic measures to correct these anomalies. They argue further that one expects the situation to change for the better since APC promised change.
One keeps on wondering; for how long would things continue this way? Who will take the bull by the horn to rescue the dying retirees? The APC led government should bring the promised change to fruition. Prompt payment of retirement benefits is not negotiable. It is a responsibility that must be performed with dignity, integrity and alacrity. This mess must stop. The time is now.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Hind’s Fit Communication Ltd.
Retired From the Service Of
Federal Ministry of Education
As Assistant Chief Stores Officer (ACSO)