MISTERÂ Esai Dangaba, recently, retiredÂ as Director of the Police Pensions Office(PPO), afterÂ over thirty years service to the nation in various capacities. The retired Director of PPO, who was born 58 years ago in Akko local government area ofÂ Gombe state, started his career as a teacher before joining the core civil service where he started asÂ a deputy clerk of the Bauchi State House of Assembly in 1979Â until he attained the position of a Director in 1997.
The retired PPO Director servedÂ as Head of the Department of the Defense Ministry and Director, Air force before heÂ was deploredÂ to the aviation sector as the Director in-charge of Planning, Research and Statistics. From whereÂ he was deployed to the PPO.Â In this concluding part of his interview with Pension and You, among other things, believes early preparation is the best retirement plan..
How did you handle cases of returned cheques, if any?
Yes there were. Almost in all cases of payment we did,Â there were returnedÂ cheques of those who probably did not hear the information and when theÂ cheques are returned, we involved another strategy. Immediately our staffÂ come from the various states of payment, we do not give themÂ a day. When they are at the centres of payment and a retiree did not come to claim his cheque, it is recordedÂ and immediately they come back,Â the chief accountant will collect the returned cheques, cross check them and immediately pay them back into the bank.
We had to implore that method as strategyÂ Â because there were casesÂ in the past where some fraudulent officers in connivance with some criminally mindedÂ people would surface and claim they were the owners of the returned cheques But with the new changes, by the time anybody comes to say he is the owner of any of the cheques that had already been paid into the bank, such person would have to go through some processes and would be interviewed, where questions of when they joined the force, their units, names of their commandersÂ and so on would be asked. In the process,Â many of them would run away.
How many retirees were you able to pay during your tenure?
In termsÂ of those on the pay roll we have 29,000. But those paid their gratuity for the first time but have not been enrolledÂ ,we had almost 11,000.Â That is why I told you thatÂ we were almost there in terms of payment. What remains will not be more than a thousand persons. That means thatÂ the budget in subsequent years will not be that for gratuity but for pension payment alone.
How much was paid?
I can remember the first year, we paid around N9billion then N10 billion. In 2009,Â weÂ were given aboutÂ 12 billion, amounting to a total ofÂ 31 billion. I am happy that this money has been disbursed and I am grateful to the federal government for giving us such money to pay the retirees and to bring happiness to their lives.
Now that you have retired,Â where do you go from here?
I am resting now, believing God to give me that peace to retire and be a senior citizen. Right now,Â I will say I am at the service of my community and the government at large, if they think I could be of help in any sector, I am available. To serve oneâ€™s country and to serve well has always been my desire.
What is your advise to prospective retirees?
You see, that is a very personal question because while I was serving I noticed one thing that people do not think of retirement until they are there, untilÂ it is starring them right inÂ the face before they start thinking of what to doÂ but it is more than that.
Right from the word go you start planning becauseÂ you are not God andÂ you do not know how and when it will end . But God has given us the ability to plan. It is not every kobo that comes your way that you spend. You should also save for the rainy day .If there are certain investments you want to do, you should start doing it right from the onset.
Secondly, the most important thing is forÂ oneÂ to have information about retirement.Â We were onceÂ used to the old system of pension where government paid you your gratuity and subsequent payments of pension. But suddenly the contributory pension was introduced. But to be honest with you, there are still so many peopleÂ who do not know where to go after retirement. Some of the serving policemen stillÂ think after their retirement they will come to the PPO,Â not knowing that they will have to be paid by National Pension Commission (PENCOM) through their Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs).
So many people need to beÂ Â be sensitized to know what is happening in terms of pension and to prepare for the raining day. Some people keep saying I will prepare later and they keep on postponing savings towards retirement, until it comes suddenly and it becomes embarrassing not justÂ to you as an individual but to the family. When you have children andÂ you tell them you do not have money, they will ask you why? So we should be prepared for that , it is not everything that you get you spend. work towards your own savings.
There are also other insurance companies that have savings towards children education, let us endeavor to invest with them . Rather than spend money on thing thatÂ are uncalled for. Let us save moneyÂ towards planning for the future.
If given another opportunity to serve again as director of PPO, what other changes would you add?
If I were to be given another opportunity as director PPO, one, I will start by concluding the computerization. Secondly I will make sure there isÂ a step up of sensitizationÂ by organising seminars in various centre all over the country where you couldÂ call the retirees and talk to them.Â Â This is because there are many of these retirees who do not even know where to start from or what to use the money for.Â We educate them and introduced them to small and mediumÂ enterprises which the government has all over and by this they will be more exposed and will benefit more.
Another thing I will do is the education of parents. We have a system in the Police where children of policemenÂ who die in active service are paid until they are eighteenÂ But you find out that when they are getting this money, it is not used judiciously for the education of the children rather they are squandered and later, you find out that when the payment stops and the children have not graduated , it becomes a problem.Â So parents particularly mothersÂ should be able to plan for the education of these kids.
We had a cases of parents who after beingÂ paid their pensions and gratuities and were asked how they spent the money, they toldÂ us sad storyÂ Â of how the family fought on what was givenÂ to them without considering the fate and future of the children, who sometimes are withdrawn form school.
If government is paying all these thingsÂ when you are alive, you should be able to carry out your normal lifeÂ even though you are restricted because you are given certain money but you should be able to perform your fundamental responsibility like getting your children educated.