By Maria Famakinwa
One of the demands made by the Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Joe Ajaero, during the commemoration of 2023 Workers’ Day, was that the age of retirement and length of service in the entire public service, including the civil service, be reviewed upward from 60 years to 65 years and 35 years to 40 years of service.
According to Ajaero, the need to review upward the retirement age and years of service in the entire public service has become imperative and the extension was done in other sectors of the public service, and labour believes it should go round.
He argued, “Only few other establishments including the core civil service are now left out. Therefore, we are demanding that the age of retirement and length of service in the entire public service including the civil service should be reviewed upward to 65 years and 40 years of service, whichever comes first.”
Nigerians, especially civil servants have expressed divergent views about this demand. Those who are not in the support argued that increasing retirement age of workers is needless because it would prevent them to plan further in order to be useful for themselves. While those who supported the idea of increasing workers retirement age said that it protect vulnerable workers and help them to earn more rather than to be retired and stay at home doing nothing.
A Federal civil servant, Mr Kayode Olaoluwa, explained that increasing retirement age of workers would be a good news to him and most civil servants because some already retired workers are doing nothing at home. He added that many civil servants are demanding for elongation of the retirement age because they can hardly do any productive venture after retirement.
He said, “I support the idea of increasing workers retirement age to 65 because most of them after retirement cannot do any business. Even when they try to do business, most of them lose money and a lot of people scam them under the guise of introducing them to business. Some of my colleagues who will soon retire are praying fervently that the retirement age be reviewed before they leave the service so that they can have more years to spend. I also share their views because one hardly get any good job after retirement but making it 65 instead of 60 years will help to cater for some financial needs. Aside the belief that civil service is stress free, increasing the retirement age will help to fortified civil service with experience workers.”
Sharing a similar view, another civil servant, Mrs Titilope Aina, opined that extending retirement age and length of service for civil servants will make them stronger. According to her, when you go to work in the morning and come back later in the day improve your health.
Her words: “There is sense in NLC’s demand for the extension of workers retirement age and length of service despite the argument that workers who have attained 60 years of age are not strong. Enjoying good health is by God’s grace and not age. There are some workers who are not up to 40 years and are nursing serious health challenges some even died in service due to the sickness whereas, we have some older civil servants who enjoys sound health. At least, if the workers are still fit, and healthy enough, they can stay up to 65 years before they retire from service. After all, judges are allowed to stay up to 70 years and in the universities, they allow them to stay up to 70 years,” she maintained.
A teacher, Mrs Olawumi Adebakin, also supported the idea of increasing retirement age of workers because many civil servants after retirement find it difficult to do any meaningful thing since no employer will need their services again thus make them lonely. Some because of this fall sick and eventually died which would have been prevented if they are still in the service.
She said: “If workers are healthy enough and still productive, they should be allowed to work for up to 65. This will help to elongate their life spans. If you observed very well, you will notice that some workers after retired at age 60 fall sick and died because the regular monthly salary is no longer feasible. Increasing the retirement age to 65 years will be additional five years bonus for those concerns to perfect their plans.”
In a different reactions, an Engineer, Mr Chinedu Emmanuel, maintained that calling for increase in workers retirement age is needless if the country is to move forward. “Ideally, I think retiring early is the way to go. If we look at France, recently, there was a national demonstration in the country, when the government was trying to increase the retirement age.
“Workers advocating for 65 years retirement age are not doing so because of the love they have for the job, but because they are greedy. There is no reason for someone who has spent 35 years in the service not to resign voluntarily in order to pave way for the employment of agile youths. The same parents who refused to leave for fresh blood to be ejected into the civil service are the one crying that their children are not employed. NLC should fight for better living condition for civil servants and not increments in service years.
Sharing a similar sentiment, Mr Niyi Olutayo, a retired civil servants also disagreed with the call for extending years of service for civil servants. According to him, NLC should engaged State and Federal governments on how pensioners can be getting their pensions regularly and ensure that their gratuities backlog are paid to attend to their needs.
His words: “I retired five years ago and to the glory of God, I have been doing well. Retiring at 60 will give you ample time to rest and plan for the future. I will never support increasing service years from 60 to 65 because it will be counter productive. If someone has put in 60 years of service and still begging for additional five years shows that such has no plan and selfish. How can the person achieve in five years what he/she cannot achieve in 60 years? The person is selfish because the idea will not allow the government to employ qualified youths into the civil service which increase the number of unemployment.
“Nigerian workers generally do not like to retire because of the present economic situation. Civil servants are afraid of retirement due to the fact that most of them do not have other sources of income. The treatment meted out to retirees in the country is another reason civil servants don’t pray to retire. Whereas, some of them involve in shady deals to argument their salaries and they know that such opportunity will not be there once they retire. There is need for government at all levels to have better plans for civil servants after retirement.
“The retirement age should remain as it is because one cannot cheat nature. No matter how strong a man may claimed, once he/she is 60, diminishing returns will definitely set in. What a 35-year-old worker will do, a 60-year-old cannot. Some people said that experience matters. Agreed, but the senior civil servants with experiences today also learn from their retired senior colleagues. So, those who have attain retirement age should go for fresh graduates to come in to start learning. Increasing retirement age of workers will do more harm than good. Instead, NLC should fight for retired civil servants to be getting their entitlements as and when due. If this is done, no worker will canvas for extension of retirement age. In fact, they will be willing to go because they have something to fall back on,” he said.