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Harmonising Nigeria’s public service retirement age discrepancies

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Harmonising Nigeria’s public service retirement age discrepancies

By: Michael Mike

Mr David Adebayo and Ms. Ngozi Chinedu were two hardworking Nigerians with divergent career paths.

Adebayo, a senior administrative officer in the public sector, dedicated his life to the civil service.

By the age of 60 which coincided with his 35 years in service he retired, according to government regulations.

In contrast, Chinedu, a senior marketing executive at a multinational corporation, continued working until the age of 65, benefiting from the stability and perks of her private sector job.

Upon retirement, Adebayo encountered several challenges. His pension, often delayed and not adjusted to inflation, was insufficient for a comfortable post-retirement life.

Losing his employer-sponsored health insurance forced him to rely on the National Health Insurance Scheme, which barely covered his basic healthcare needs.

Not having enough leisure time during his service years, post-retirement financial strain and inadequate healthcare support took a toll on his well-being.

Chinedu’s experience was however markedly different. Working until 65 allowed her to amass a larger pension fund, ensuring financial security on her retirement.

Her private health insurance continued into her retirement years, providing comprehensive coverage.

The extended work period also meant that she enjoyed a better work-life balance and job satisfaction, marked by professional growth and substantial earnings.

In retirement, Adebayo and Chinedu’s lives further diverged.

Adebayo, without a solid post-retirement plan, struggled with social isolation and mental health issues.

Chinedu maintained her professional network and engaged in community activities, finding a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

This narrative reflects the impact of retirement age discrepancies in Nigeria.

It underscores the relentless call by stakeholders on the federal government to accede to the demand for the review and harmonization of the retirement age of all public servants across-the-board.

Many public analysts believe that harmonising Nigeria’s retirement age discrepancies by addressing the variations in retirement ages across all sectors in the country, is long overdue.

According to them, inconsistent policies that culminate in retirement age disparities in the workforce is discriminatory, counter-productive, and a morale killer.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has, for instance, persistently demanded that the retirement age and length of service in the entire public service be reviewed upward to 65 years of age and 40 years of service, respectively.

Reinforcing this standpoint, NLC President, Joe Ajaero, during the 2023 and 2024 May Day celebrations, reiterated that the organised labour was resolutely committed to its demand for the upward review and harmonization of public servants’ retirement age.

He said that increasing the years of service should be done uniformly across all sectors, instead of being selectively done in favor of just a few sectors of the public service in the country.

“Only a few establishments, including the core civil service, are now left out.

“We are, therefore, demanding that the age of retirement and length of service in the entire public service, including the core civil service, be reviewed upward to 65 years of age and 40 years of service,” Ajaero said.

Concurring with Ajaero, the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), an NGO that is committed to strengthening democratic governance in Nigeria, also called for the immediate upward review of the retirement age of civil servants.

PLAC argued that this would facilitate an efficient pension administration process for the welfare of core civil servants, be they judicial officers like retired judges or public servants in any sector.

It was against this backdrop that former President Muhammadu Buhari on May 12, 2021, approved the upward review of the retirement age of health sector workers from 60 to 65, and catapulted that of consultants from 65 to 70.

The former President also signed a Law in 2022 increasing the retirement age for primary school teachers to 65, with no fewer than 15 state governments currently implementing it already.

On June 8, 2023, President Bola Tinubu signed a Constitution Alteration Act to amend Section 291 of the Constitution, to ensure uniformity in the retirement age and pension rights of judicial officers of superior courts.

This Act, the Fifth Alteration (No.37) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, eliminates disparity in the retirement age of judicial officers by harmonising it at 70 years.

It also reduces the period of service required to determine a judicial officer’s pension from fifteen to ten years.

Also, the Nigerian Senate recently passed a Bill to increase the retirement age for civil servants working in the National Assembly to 65 years or 40 years of service.

The Bill, which was initiated by the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), has set tongues wagging across socio-political and ethnic divides.

PASAN has argued that increasing the retirement age would help fill the vacuum caused by retiring experienced officers and better utilize their experience while building the capacity of younger employees.

According to Sunday Sabiyi, PASAN chairman, the Bill is expected to be signed into law by President Bola Tinubu soon, and when signed, national and state assembly workers will retire at the age of 65 years and 40 years of service, respectively.

Similarly, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) has been upbeat in its call for an upward review of the retirement age for employees in the core civil service.

Joshua Apebo, ASCSN Secretary-General, while reiterating the association’s position, urged the trade union movement to ensure uniformity in retirement age in the public service.

Apebo argued that since judicial officers, university lecturers, health workers, and primary school teachers now enjoy the new retirement age hike, and with that of the legislature in view, it was only fair that it also benefitted other core civil servants.

Dr Gboyega Daniel, a public affairs analyst, picked holes in the discrepancies in retirement age in Nigeria, and called for immediate policy reforms to harmonise the benchmarks.

Daniel said that these discrepancies create perceptions of inequality, favoritism, and strain the pension system, which affects service morale and productivity, culminating in imbalances and potential sustainability issues.

According to him, varied retirement ages complicate workforce planning and disrupt the systematic transfer of knowledge and experiences.

“The civil service mandates retirement at 60 years or after 35 years of service, while the academia sees professors and other academic staff retiring at 70 years.

“Judges and justices in the judiciary retire at ages ranging from 65 to 70, depending on their positions.

“Ditto for teachers, who have since had their retirement age jacked up by the Buhari administration,” he said.

He, therefore, suggested immediate legislative actions to amend existing laws and implement policy reforms that would establish unified retirement age across all sectors.

Dr Tunde Balogun, a UK-based Nigerian, said the current debate about reviewing the retirement age and length of service was not limited to Nigeria.

“Recently, the UK Government said it was considering raising the retirement age of public servants from the current 60 years to 68 years.

“At the moment, retirement at age 65 years is common in many EU member states. Many countries have already decided to raise the retirement age to 67 years,” he said.

Experts say that reviewing the core civil servants’ retirement age to 65 years and 40 years of service as well as harmonising the discrepancies across the board, is a policy that is long overdue.

Although some critics argue that the policy would be inimical to the career progression of their younger colleagues and affect fresh employments, its proponents say the benefits far outweigh its demerits.

According to them, achieving uniformity in retirement age policy can leverage experience and expertise, enhance fairness, efficiency, and sustainability in workforce management and pension systems.

They believe government should demonstrate sincerity of purpose and apply a holistic approach to the issue.

Harmonising Nigeria’s public service retirement age discrepancies

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NAPTIP Promises Improved Strategies to Tackle Evolving Trend of Human Trafficking

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NAPTIP Promises Improved Strategies to Tackle Evolving Trend of Human Trafficking

By: Michael Mike

The Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi has pledged that the Agency will continue to develop new strategies, expand cooperation, and foster more collaboration to keep pace with the evolving trends in human trafficking.

She gave the commitment in Abuja while unveiling the activities planned for the 2024 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, themed “Leave No Child Behind in the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons”.

The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2013 to be observed annually on July 30th to promote comprehensive, coordinated, and consistent responses at national, regional, and international levels to counter trafficking in persons. It aims to promote a human rights-based, gender- and age-sensitive approach in addressing all factors that make people vulnerable to trafficking, and in strengthening the criminal justice response necessary to prevent trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute perpetrators.

According to the United Nations, the 2024 World Day Against Trafficking urges accelerated action to end child trafficking, recognizing that children represent a significant proportion of trafficking victims worldwide, with girls being disproportionately affected.

On the activities lined up for the 2024 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in Nigeria, Waziri-Azi disclosed that it is in collaboration with UNODC, IOM, ICMPD, and OHCHR and would be commencing from Saturday, July 28 to Sunday, August 4, 2024. She noted that the programmes have been carefully selected to reflect the theme of the celebration, insisting that: “These activities aim to create the needed awareness and impactful sensitization to address the concerns of all and reduce the vulnerability of potential trafficking victims.”

Wazir-Azi said: “I am pleased to state that our activities and interventions in the fight against human trafficking in Nigeria are inclusive, involving various categories of stakeholders. For the first time, NAPTIP will commemorate the World Day together with the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP), our counterpart agency that would be visiting from The Gambia.”

She disclosed that the celebration will kick off on Saturday, July 27, 2024, with a female novelty match to “Kick Against Human Trafficking” involving NAPTIP officers and partners at the Wakanda Games Arena, Accra Street, Wuse Zone 5, starting at 8:00 am. On Monday, July 29, 2024, a Community Town Hall Dialogue will provide a platform for community stakeholders to voice their opinions and concerns, fostering engagement, transparency, problem-solving, inclusivity, and community cohesion. The Dialogue would be aired live on Radio Nigeria from 10.30am.

“On Tuesday, July 30, 2024, at 7:30 am, there will be an Awareness Walk from the Old Parade Ground through major routes in the Central Business District of Abuja, ending at the Unity Fountain. State Task Forces on Human Trafficking from 23 states across Nigeria will participate. From Wednesday, July 31 to Friday, August 2, 2024, we have planned a Bootcamp for all State Task Force members,” Prof. Waziri-Azi added.

Other planned activities include the Survivor’s Got Talent Grand Finale, sensitization and awareness creation in places of worship and public spaces, and a robust online awareness campaign.

Waziri-Azi urged everyone to join hands with the Agency to ensure a successful 2024 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons celebration .“Let us amplify our efforts, fortify our resolve, and work tirelessly to create a world where every child can thrive in safety and dignity. Together, we can and must leave no child behind in this crucial fight” the Director-General stated.

NAPTIP Promises Improved Strategies to Tackle Evolving Trend of Human Trafficking

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UNESCO’s Readiness Assessment Methodology Launched to Promote Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence in Nigeria

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UNESCO’s Readiness Assessment Methodology Launched to Promote Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence in Nigeria

By: Michael Mike

Nigeria’s plan to embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) took a great leap with the official launch of UNESCO’s Readiness Assessment Methodology (RAM) in the country.

Speaking at the launch in Abuja, the Head of Abuja Office and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Representative to Nigeria, Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo said the event signifies a pivotal moment in Nigeria’s journey towards embracing ethical artificial intelligence practices.

Diallo said: “As we gather here at the UN House, we are reminded of the transformative potential of AI in driving innovation and sustainable development across our nation. UNESCO’s Readiness Assessment Methodology (RAM) stands as a beacon of guidance, ensuring that our advancements in AI are not only groundbreaking but also aligned with global standards of ethics and responsibility.

“We are particularly proud that Nigeria is joining us as part of UNESCO’s custodial role in promoting the ethics of AI worldwide. UNESCO’s Recommendations on the Ethics of AI, adopted by 193 countries, provide a robust framework for the responsible and ethical development and deployment of AI technologies. These recommendations emphasize human rights, fairness, transparency, and accountability, and it is heartening to see Nigeria committing to these principles as we work together to build an inclusive and ethical AI ecosystem.”

He added that: “As we gather here today, we are reminded of the profound impact that artificial intelligence has on our society. AI permeates many aspects of our daily lives, and its ethical implications have become a focal point for all actors within the ecosystem. Recognizing this, in 2023, UNESCO launched the Readiness Assessment Methodology (RAM) as a pivotal tool for implementing its Recommendation on the Ethics of AI, which was adopted by 193 countries in 2021.

“The RAM, with its comprehensive framework consisting of five dimensions, serves as a vital instrument for assessing a country’s readiness to implement AI ethically and responsibly. It highlights strengths and identifies infrastructural, institutional, and regulatory gaps, enabling nations to address these challenges effectively and create an ethical AI ecosystem.”

On his part, the Secretary General, National Commission for UNESCO (NATCOM-UNESCO), Dr. Idowu Olagunju said: “I firmly believe that today’s discussions will pave the way for significant advancements in our national AI strategy, aligning with UNESCO’s global mission of promoting ethical AI.”

He asked: “Let us embark on this journey together, as we work towards a future where AI is harnessed for the greater good, in alignment with our shared values and ethical principles.”

Speaking to journalists after inaugurating the Steering and Technical Working Committees and Launching the Project, the Minister of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy: Dr Bosun Tijani expressed the country’s readiness to take advantage of the value addition of AI, noting that the youths have already been sensitized and mobilized to evolve the use of AI

He appreciated the support from UNESCO to ensure that AI is ethically embraced, noting that the government is working on making the country one of the top countries in Artificial Intelligence.

He noted that with the diversity of the committees constituted for the AI project, Nigeria is on an interesting ride to the very top.

UNESCO’s Readiness Assessment Methodology Launched to Promote Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence in Nigeria

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Dangote vs. NNPC: A Tale of Sabotage and Misrepresentation

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Dangote vs. NNPC: A Tale of Sabotage and Misrepresentation

By: Shina Adewoye

During major football events, every Nigerian acts like a football coach. Around the elections period, everyone becomes a lawyer analyzing both pre elections and post elections matters.

Throughout various discussions, Nigerians take on roles as journalists and economists. This active participation is the beauty of democracy. However, problems arise when uninformed individuals try to present their opinions as facts.

On the Dangote issue, it’s striking that Nigeria, a member of OPEC and the world’s 7th largest oil producer, lacks a functional refinery. The NNPC doesn’t even have a laboratory, yet it questions the quality of products from Dangote’s world-class refinery.

Elon Musk, a vocal critic of Joe Biden and a supporter of Donald Trump, faces no personal attacks from Biden. This makes it puzzling why Dangote, Africa’s richest man, faces sabotage in Nigeria. The U.S. embraces diverse talents like Elon Musk ( a South African) and late Steve Jobs ( a Syrian) emphasizing its reputation as a land of great opportunities.

President Tinubu, also serving as the Minister of Petroleum, oversees an NNPC that falsely claims a 20% stake in Dangote’s refinery, while Dangote maintains they only paid for 7%. No action has been taken against those responsible for this irresponsible misrepresentation and embarrassment.

Moreover, Dangote’s $100 million claim for land in Lagos raises questions about the use of US $ in Nigeria as a legal tender.

Nevertheless, as an entrepreneur, Dangote is prepared for challenges. He built his refinery in a free trade zone, constructed his own port, and he can thrive without the Nigerian market by focusing on exports.

Nigerians should identify their real adversaries. Dangote can source crude oil globally and export the by-products.

Time will reveal the truth, and history will vindicate the just.

Shina Adewoye
Public Policy Analyst

Dangote vs. NNPC: A Tale of Sabotage and Misrepresentation

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