Millions of Nigerians are heading toward defectively funded retirement, leaving a lot of them cynical about pension plans in the country and how the pension system works because they don’t want to lose their many years of labour to shylocks. Without sufficient income, mostly older adults who eventually rely on pension will lack the resources that enable them to live self-reliantly, access basic health care, and continue to play their roles in the society.
Plenty of workers unquestionably have doubts about these things and that’s obviously why only a fraction of the workforce has a pension plan. While pension plans has kept majority of older adults from sinking into destitution, far too many retirees are having trouble making ends meet.
Before our discussion takes centre stage in planning a successful retirement, we need to comprehend why our retirement is primarily of utmost concern in the first place. This may seem like an inconsequential question, but you might be surprised to learn that the key mechanisms of retirement planning run contrary to common belief about the best way to save for the future. Furthermore, proper enactment of those key mechanisms is essential in ensuring a financially secure retirement. This involves looking at each possible source of retirement income.
Quick Understanding about Pension Plan
A pension is designed to help you fund your retirement and replace the income you are no longer receiving from working. It can fit alongside all your other savings, from bank and building society accounts to property.
Pensions could be one important way to support your retirement. Another may be your home (some people talk about their property as their pension) and another could be all your other savings and investments such as deposit accounts and shares. Your retirement income may come from any combination of these.
But is there really anything to worry about? Is it safe to commit your money to a pension firm and expect to get it back? There’s certainly a lot that people need to know about how pensions work and how safe it is for them to have a pension plan.
First off, we need to be up front about the prospects of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) set up by the government to oversee all pension firms in the country. Their job is to make sure your money is secure with the pension firm you choose and that your business with the firm keeps moving smoothly. So if anything happens, the commission is empowered to step in and sort it out for you so you never get to lose a single naira.
Besides, people who think their pension firm will divert their pension need to know that pension firms don’t spend the money or use it for private purposes. By saving your pension or maintaining a pension plan, through your custodian, you’re able to put your money in a range of investments, such as the stock market, commercial property, bonds, and funds. The range of investments will depend on the scheme; you’ll even have some more money than what you’ve put in over the years.
When your employer deducts some of your salary as pension, they pay this money to a pension fund custodian. This custodian company then notifies the pension firm that you’re registered with. Then your pension firm updates your accounts with them and there are no stories. So even if your pension firm ever goes under (which is really improbable), your money is safe with the custodian.
Additionally, every pension firm is mandated by law to maintain a statutory reserve fund that they mustn’t take from at any time. It’s with this money they get to meet up if the PenCom steps in and asks them to pay up pensions that are due.
Even at that, there are people who think the government might take from their pension money. But of course the government doesn’t involve itself in the affairs of the pension firms and certainly won’t have access to your pension. The PenCom is the only government body that’s involved here and they only regulate and make sure your money is safe. They don’t take your money. They make sure nobody takes your money.
You can start taking from your retirement savings when you retire or when you’re 50 years old depending on your agreement with your employer. So normally a pension plan is basically like a savings account where you get to keep your money over time and then take from it later. But with your pension you normally can’t take from it until your retirement. This makes sure you don’t eat into your savings and jeopardise your own retirement.
But the good part of having a pension plan is that you could actually get up to a quarter of your pension right now if you ever lose your job and can’t get another one within four months. So you can get by with some of your money until you get back on your feet, and if you have to pay for healthcare or if your daughter’s university tuition is due while you’re between jobs for instance, your money will be readily available to you.
What’s also good is that your pension firm won’t just collect your savings and keep you in the dark. They’ll be in touch with you and send you regular updates about your account and how well the investments they making on it for you is doing. So at every point you’ll know how much you have in there to keep you assured that your money is safe. This is actually the way it works.
Even more disconcerting is the fact that the poverty rate among older adults in Nigeria is alarming, one of the highest among less developed countries. The major reason so many older Nigerians become poor when they retire is the lack of proper pension plan to complement our retirement.
Another reason is that, a lot of employers don’t get a pension plan for their employees and these employees don’t bother to seek out a good one because of their scepticism. But really it’s very important for Nigerians to think about the future and personally get a pension plan where they can put aside something for the future, so they can have something solid to fall back on when they retire.
Without your own savings to add to the mix, you’ll find it difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy much beyond the minimum standard of living when old age comes knocking. This situation can quickly become alarming if your health takes a turn for the worse.
Unforseen things happen all the time and without a backup it can be especially difficult coping with these circumstances when they happen. For instance, people have had their entire business wiped out by a fire
and have had to start from scratch at an old age.
Old age typically brings medical problems and increased healthcare expenses. Without your own nest egg, living out your golden years in comfort while also covering your medical expenses may turn out to be a burden too large to bear – especially if your health (or that of your loved ones) starts to deteriorate.
This is a completely avoidable situation, and it’s important for the Nigerian people to take the right step as they move onto the future.