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“The ease of getting a pension raises concern”
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“The ease of getting a pension raises concern”

phpepTMqMAMRetirees count on pensions for their well-being in old age, but Alabidun Sarat, 22, a Correspondent from Lagos in Nigeria, writes that mismanagement of funds or onerous bureaucracy can be a burden on the hoped-for golden years.

About two months ago, a group of old people in Nigeria under the platform of Internally Displaced Pensioners in Osun State staged a protest. Not a few Nigerians got confused by the association’s name. The state was not one of those affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. How, then, did they have Internally Displaced people?

The pensioners were prompt to give their answer. They were internally displaced by grueling hunger due to the state government’s failure to pay their pension arrears for so many years. As old people who had served their governments for at least ten years – some more than thirty years- it was disheartening. Some of them had been sent packing out of their homes due to inability to pay their house rents. Worse still, others had lost their lives to hunger. Who were they to not call themselves internally displaced people?

Nigeria is one country where the essence of the pension seems to have been defeated. Normally, small amounts of money are removed from the salaries of workers monthly and kept for them in their pension account. After they get to retirement age and are too old to work, these monies are then paid regularly to them for their upkeep. However, in Nigeria such is not the case. Nigeria’s retirees probably have to work much harder than they ever did during the time of their service to the government to be able to receive their pensions.

Apart from the fact that some of these governments claim that they do not have money to pay pensions, others make these people, with ages ranging from 65 to100, go through so much stress in the guise of verification. During verification, these retirees have to come all the way to wherever their verification centers are to confirm that they are alive and have not been impersonated. There, they stay waiting in long queues. These are people who have become weak due to old age. Some have become senile. A recent picture surfaced on the internet of a pensioner, a very old and frail woman who reportedly fainted at the verification center. She had to be carried away by one of the officials.

The pension, which is originally the hard-earned money of these retirees, has now been made to look like its payment is a favour being done to them. The pensioners are even more irked by one thing: some of the top officials of government on retirement declare the large amounts of money they receive as pension and gratuity, much to the dismay of the helpless retirees. According to them, some of these top officials serve the nation for as little as eight years, yet they are entitled to huge sums of money which they do not have to stress themselves to get.

In a world where practically everything is now done digitally, most of the issues Nigerian retirees face should ordinarily not arise.  These monies were removed first of all to be secured for them, not spent. When people misappropriate funds, they should pay the price. Secondly, the verification exercise would be practically unnecessary if there were a functional computerised database with all of these retirees’ details.

It is also instructive to note that pensions are no longer an issue in so many other nations. They have devised means of getting retirees their entitlements with no hassles, and have moved on to creating new solutions for other problems. Nigeria might as well take a cue from there.

photo credit: ccPixs.com Grow Your Money via photopin (license) www.ccPixs.com

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About me: I am a graduate of Applied Chemistry from Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Nigeria, with a flair for writing. I’m looking to change the world, one word at a time. I blog, too, and I love horses.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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