Chidi Iheama is the Executive Director, Institute of Retirement Management. He retired as a Director, Learning and Development at the Centre for Management Development. In this interview, he highlights the functions of the institute in the pension sector of Nigeria.
Is the Institute of Retirement Management registered?
The institute is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
What role is the institute playing in pension affairs? Is it not likely to conflict in the affairs of PenComm as a regulatory body?
There is no conflict whatsoever. First and foremost, it is a capacity building institution. Secondly the institute is into advocacy and thirdly it is providing services in the area of advisory services to those who are preparing for retirement and those who are already retired. In addition too, we are working with a number of business coaches so that those who are members and those who will work with the institute will have the opportunity of building a business that is credible. This is so that when they are retiring, they will have a business that is credible and have something to fall back on.
Also, the institute has a wellness programme that is designed to help retirees and potential retirees to rejuvenate their health so they can live healthy and transfer their knowledge, skills and attitudes to the younger generation.
So how are all these roles going to impact in the lives of retirees?
Obviously, part of the problems we have in this corner of the world is that when people are retiring, their mindset is that they are old, but when you relate with retirees in developed countries, some of them are engaged in missionary work, because they have reservoir of experience to share with the society. In most developed societies today, this is the case with people at 80, 85 or even 90.
Therefore in Nigeria, I think retirees need to restructure their minds when it comes to retirement. Retirement is only a second phase of one’s life and one still has 25-30 years of meaningful life experience to share with people.
What are those aspects of restructuring of mindset are you referring to?
What I mean is that people that are retiring ought to change their mindsets. Most retirees have worked in formal organizations where they work with rules and regulations and because of that, it doesn’t allow them to be willing to take risks, resulting to them not using their pool of knowledge. But when they retire, they can tackle the risk component in business and with that they take a new dimension in their lives and become more successful and use that success to make the society better.
I retired as a director at the Centre for Management Development but believe me, I feel I have about 20 more years to offer service to my fatherland as a way of repaying my country for helping me be what I am today.
Are you concerned about the welfare of retirees, especially when they are denied their retirement benefits?
This all comes down to lack of care that has triggered the establishment of the institute because we think retirees and civil servants can be better and can also be treated better than their current condition by their employers and the important thing is for them to love themselves. Most civil servants do not love themselves; they think everything can be done for them. They must learn to be productive and the institute is here to encourage civil servants to appreciate the fact that they can generate beneficial ideas no matter how little before they leave active service so that they can fall back on something.
Are there other special programmes which the institute carries out?
Well, as an institute, we are already networking and it is one aspect we want to work closely with government in achieving. In the African Continent and Nigeria especially, everybody is always talking about government. Government already is getting tired and weaker because we operate a mono economy. As such, we need to expand the economic base and by implication, private sector operators must come into the whole issue of pension management and managing pensioners.
Therefore, we call on the government for more collaboration so that we can give the right knowledge and training to pensioners so they can realize that beyond pension benefits, they will embark on productive activities.
What is your opinion on pension and retirement in Nigeria?
To be sincere, the Nigerian government has tried in restructuring the pension scheme. It is no longer the old pension scheme where you retire and wait until your pension comes. One can now determine the kind of benefits he will get by what you have invested while you were in service. I commend the relevant agencies for that policy. But the essence of IRM is to let public servants know that they must go beyond the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and be enterprising while in service so that they can develop it when they retire.