Proposed retirement age increase sparks new discussion

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HENRY FALAIYE reports that experts’ opinions on the Nigeria Labour Congress’s demand to raise the country’s retirement age and years of service for civil servants have differed.

The age of retirement and the length of service in the entire public service, including the civil service, should be reviewed upward from 60 years to 65 years of age and 35 years to 40 years of service, according to Nigeria Labour Congress President Joe Ajaero, on May 1, 2023, during the commemoration of 2023 Workers’ Day.

Ajaero asserts that the extension of the retirement age and years of service requirements across the board in the Public Service is now necessary and should continue, as it has been done in other divisions.

“Only a small number of other establishments, including the core civil service, are now left out,” he claimed. As a result, we are demanding that the retirement age and minimum service requirements for the entire public sector, including the civil service, be raised to 65 years old and 40 years of service, whichever comes first.

Opinions on the subject have been divided ever since the NLC president called for the extension of the nation’s retirement age and years of service.

Dr. Muda Yusuf, the chief executive officer of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, noted that many civil servants were asking for the retirement age to be raised because they were finding it difficult to start new businesses after they retired.

Most of them are unable to conduct business, he said. As a result, even when they attempt to conduct business, the majority of them suffer financial setbacks, and numerous individuals con them by offering them a variety of absurd business ideas and venture proposals. Because it is difficult when you have spent your entire life in the civil service, many of them have lost their entitlements as a result of starting the wrong kind of business.

He asserted that many retired civil servants find it challenging to fit into some other things.

He believes that the NLC’s demand for an increase in the retirement age and length of service is reasonable.

“At least, if the workers are still physically and mentally capable, they can work for up to 65 years before retiring.

He insisted that judges are permitted to serve terms of up to 70 years, and that this is also the case at universities.

He made the case that the labor movement’s demand was supported by an existing precedent.

Some consultants work well past that age. Yusuf argued that because of their years of experience, the older they are, the better.

He thinks that people should be able to work for up to 65 years if they are in good health and are still productive.

“Almost 90% of them are incapable of conducting business. For them, the longer they can stay, the better, so long as they are productive, he said.

According to Tolu Adedayo, a senior HR expert and consultant, each NLC request should be evaluated on its own merits.

He claims that some organizations even lower the retirement age to allow workers to leave their jobs earlier and start their own businesses.

He clarified that the 55-year-old retirement age applied to his former employer. “The reasoning behind that is so that individuals would still be nimble, enabling them to complete tasks independently after leaving the workplace.

What we do is provide them with post-retirement business ideas and training so that, before they leave paid employment, they are already prepared and have everything they would need to survive, he clarified.

He pointed out that the NLC’s request for an increase in the retirement age and the number of service years may be motivated by the standard of living and Nigeria’s economic situation.

“In a perfect world, I would retire at a young age. When the government of France attempted to raise the retirement age, there was recently a nationwide protest in the nation.

“The French government raised the retirement age with the intention of reducing the number of retirees. I believe that the best course of action is to encourage entrepreneurship, teach Nigerians how to start their own businesses so that they can generate more jobs, encourage people to retire earlier, and provide them with the resources and knowledge they need to survive after retirement, said the expert.

Speaking to The PUNCH, Dr. Obiora Madu, the director general of the African Centre for Supply Chain and president of the Association of Outsourcing Professionals, claimed that it was inconsequential whether or not the retirement age and length of service should be reviewed.

“Productivity should be the main issue,” Madu said.

He asserted that raising the retirement age and the length of service would reduce output.

He continued by saying that the productivity of the civil servants should worry the Nigeria Labour Congress and that they ought to demand a living wage and depart from the system when it was time.

Where will those people find work if they raise the retirement age and length of service requirements for civil servants—we’re talking about an unemployment rate of about 33%—he questioned.

It was one thing for HR and talent acquisition expert Victor Oyesina to publicly demand that the retirement age be raised to 65 and that the length of service in the public sector be increased to 40 years, but it was quite another to actually follow through with the proposal by designing the systems and procedures that would make the extension justifiable.

He asserts that the government primarily speaks rather than acts.

“Are they prepared to create the systems that would enable those things to take place?

“The current administration is already coming to an end, so labor must wait for the new government to get this done.”

Oyesina continued by saying that the timing was off because no one knew who would be appointed to the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.

“It’s wise to make that known now so the incoming administration is informed. It will still undoubtedly go through various bills in the National Assembly.

“It’s good that NLC was bringing this up. “Awareness is where we should start, and then we’ll see how the implementation plays out,” he said.

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Former General Secretary of the Bible Society of Nigeria and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria, Dr. Dare Ajiboye, noted that the country’s life expectancy rate needed to be taken into account before raising the retirement age and the number of years of service.

What is the country’s current average life expectancy? Nigeria’s life expectancy is between 50 and 55 years, and the country is asking for a 65-year pension age and a 40-year service requirement, he claimed.

He contends that the demand’s justification and viability must be considered.

If a person has a 55-year life expectancy, it follows that they begin to deteriorate between the ages of 45 and 50.

“What happens to a person’s productivity after age 65. He questioned whether they would continue to produce as anticipated.

According to him, civil servants are pushing for an increase in the retirement age because their work is less demanding than that of private companies, where employees often struggle to meet deadlines.

Ajiboye asserted that it would be challenging for someone to be extremely productive at age 65.

Nigeria is not the only country where there is currently a discussion about retirement age and length of service. The French labor unions protested their government’s plans to raise their country’s 62-year retirement age, while the national labor union in France is calling for an upward review of the retirement age. Numerous workers in France protested the extension in April because they were so vehemently opposed to the idea.

Recently, the UK government announced it was thinking about raising the retirement age from 60 years old to 68 years old by 2035. If adopted, the proposals would apply to workers under the age of 54 who are currently employed.

When they proposed raising the retirement age to 68, some of the nation’s lawmakers cautioned the Prime Minister and Chancellor that they were “playing with fire.”

According to reports, the government’s plans to raise the retirement age to 68 by 2035 could allow millions of Britons to continue working.

Reports state that the proposal, which would apply to people born in the 1970s and later, was expected to be unveiled in the March Budget.

Backbench MPs have both warned Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt that they are ‘playing with fire’ in the lead-up to the next general election.

The proposal claims that the Treasury determined it to be worth millions to the UK’s struggling economy. In response to rising food and energy costs amid a cost-of-living crisis, hundreds of thousands of workers have already chosen to reduce their pension contributions.

Different sticks for different folks is evident from the varied responses to proposals for a retirement age review.

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