By Ati Kenneth Kengkeng
What options are open to one who has attained the age of sixty? What does the age of sixty portend? I did the math, perused the rules of the civil service and gathered from the experiences of many. Looking through it all, I discovered among other issues that the crop of people who have retired or are retiring this year are those who were employed in 1979 or were employed thereafter but have attained the age of sixty. My mother falls in the latter category. She was recruited as a teacher in 1987 when I was just a year old. Having retired from service, I decided to peep into the system and see for myself. Ordinarily, my mother has no business retiring now. As a matter of fact, she is only retired from the civil service of Benue State Government. Strong, agile and glowing at sixty, she has a lot more to do and fulfill in the decades ahead.
In tandem with the culture of corruption that is domiciled in the civil service, I make bold to state that I know how to keep her in the employ of Benue State Civil Service. Age falsification is not a new thing, neither is it difficult to effect in this corruption-ridden society of ours. In this state where there is almost no accomodation for the plightand welfare of senior citizens, where gratuity and pension has no place in the appropriation formula, where retired civil servants who ordinarily should be celebrated go begging cap-in-hand to the Accountant General…age falsification has become an inevitable stock in trade. The fear of redundancy and uncertainty that beclouds ones exit from active service drives the appetite to sin by attempting to perpetuate ones self for perishable stipends. This could also be the reason why Professors have increased their retirement age to 75. I have seen people who are far older than my mother serving actively in government. People who should’ve retired gloriously for meritorious service have towed the derogatory path and reversed their ages to the ignominious point where their WAEC exams were questionably written when they were about 2years old. Funny but true.
For us as a family, well-trained children of our father Late Engr. Bisibi Ati and most importantly, going by the tenets of our Christian faith, its alien for one to succumb to such temptation. It is not in our character to join issues with the devil, corruption and lawlessness. It’s rather too late. This doggedness and proud-standing, coupled with the innumerable, unique, out-standing and fascinating qualities my mother embodies, are the reasons why we celebrate, jubilate and gyrate with joy unspeakable for a gem Mrs. Bridget Ilkwase Ati at 60.
No doubt mummy, you are heaven bound. You are only retired from Benue State Civil Service. We have a world to conquer. Welcome to phase 2 of your life of service to humanity. Congratulations to you with the warmest regards ever offered. I love you!