Saturday, April 6, 2024

If you have been in formal employment especially so in government service for over three decades mingling with the mighty, being called Sir, your official car and travel expenses, official leave, medical bills and even drivers are paid for from the public purse, you have to suffer some levels of trepidations of the unknown as you get into old age induced retirement. And yet however stupid, crafty, or clumsy you were, your opinions on a variety of issues mattered or at least appeared, and you probably even thought you were irreplaceable,

Added to the above, you were also used to your children being driven to and back from school term, for medical check-ups, swimming, shopping and visiting relatives near and far by your official driver in the official car, often at no additional cost of your own like I have been, you need tie up the loose ends tightly as you head into retirement particularly if a rural setting is the choice.

And because these freebies are usually taken for granted, even the personal car you have, hasn’t been well-looked after since you enjoyed officialdom and the UG-series granted you unofficial right-of-way often abused with reckless abandon. The traffic police along your route to and from home having known your official car registration number plate will pay a blind eye to your driver’s road transgressions.

You were also used to the monthly paycheque, per diem each time you traveled abroad and inland around the country, which was very regular since you were on mobilisation, information dissemination and monitoring public service delivery. There was also the office imprest, free mobile telephone airtime and data for internet, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Tik-Tok to indulge your social fantasies. Last, but not least, banks would offer you a salary loan each time there was need often at no physically verifiable collateral on a generous repayment schedule and duration just on account that you hold a valid appointment letter.

If you had forgotten, you have also been on the VIP guest list for official national functions like Independence, NRM Victory Day, International Youth, Women, and Labour days, and as well at the State Banquets each time a visiting president or Head of State came to Uganda rubbing shoulders and musing with foreign diplomats, the monied and mighty on our soil.

Many public servants these days especially elected leaders and presidential appointees particularly ministers, MPs, Chief Executives Officers, and Permanent Secretaries have found themselves in very unenviable situations having ignored or failed to adequately plan for their retirement the reason some crawl back into government corridors mostly for welfare.

Over the years this has been the sad pattern looking at MPs who lost elections or ministers dropped in cabinet reshuffles. All of a sudden, the opulent security paraphernalia that was not necessary in many instances but used to signify status symbol disappear, and you will be hard pressed to find many afloat in social, political or even economic life.

Friends and people who used to invite you to social functions like academic graduations, weddings, and even funerals as their chief guest now avoid you altogether. Over time, with subdued bitterness and a sense of betrayal, you realise that the status you previously held was all vanity to soothe own small brains and ego, and with no humility you banish into eternal exile. Now don’t ask me whether former vice presidents, prime ministers, ministers, PSs or MPs are alive or in town. In the not-so-short time many, including yours truly have spent on the public couch, experience teaches that meticulously plan for retirement and life after is critical if we don’t become for the bird’s pick.