Pension for former governors, is Zamfara the only culprit? by Ummulkhair Akibu

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Leadership, especially elected leadership, is a calling in most countries. A calling though that comes with its own headaches and yet on the flip side, one that comes with much power, prestige, and even financial gains.

In Nigeria, when a person is elected, let us say into the office of the governor of a state, the office provides him with all his needs including feeding, vehicles, Special Assistants, Personal Assistants, entertainment, security, utility bills, newspapers, medical bills, and clothing. They lack nothing that money can buy because the state provides from its coffers. Yet these leaders elected into office to help their constituents still find a way to pad up their wallets after their time in office. Funny enough, these former executives “arm-twist” their state legislatures while in office for the purpose of these entitlements once they leave the office.

Unfortunately, the entitlements they enjoy are far more than what political office holders in developed and rich countries enjoy. More of why we would continue to be a developing country.

It has been an open secret, which no one talks about until the leaked letter sent by the former governor of Zamfara state, Abdul-aziz Yari Abubakar, to the present governor of the state, Bello Matawalle. Though the state assembly has abolished the law in Zamfara state, as aftermath, this law is still very active in other states.

READ ALSO: Outcry: Ex-governor Yari demands payment of 10M Naira monthly allowance

It is no news that former state chief executives in the country are enjoying a series of humongous payouts which they term as pension allowance. These former governors, despite irregularities in their states, get massive allowances as being past governors exerting pressure on national development with pension payments and other entitlements draining billions of naira every year from development funds for the states. These allowances include, but not limited to Vehicle renewal and maintenance, housing allowance and salaries of aides.

Some States’ Remuneration For Former Executives

“In Akwa Ibom, the state law provides for N200 million annual pay to ex-governors, deputies; pension for life; a new official car and utility-vehicle every four years; one personal aide and provision of adequate security; a cook, chauffeurs and security guards for the governor at a sum not exceeding N5m per month and N2.5m for the deputy governor; free medical services for governor and spouse totaling N100m for the governor per annum, a five-bedroom mansion in Abuja and Akwa Ibom; and allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary for the deputy governor; 300 percent of annual basic salary every four years and severance gratuity.

“In Gombe State, there is N300 million executive pension benefits for the ex-governors.

“In Kwara State, the 2010 law gives a former governor two cars and a security car replaceable every three years; a well-furnished 5-bedroom duplex; 300 per cent of his salary as furniture allowance; five personal staff; three State Security Services; free medical care for the governor and the deputy; 30 per cent of salary for car maintenance; 20 per cent for utility; 10 percent for entertainment; 10 per cent for house maintenance.

“Benefits accruable to former governors of Edo State under the Pension Rights of the Governor and Deputy Governor Law 2007 amount to 100 per cent of the salary of the incumbent governor for life, an officer not above Salary grade level 12 as Special Assistant, a personal secretary not below grade level 10 who shall be selected by the former governor from the public service of Edo State.

READ ALSO: Aftermath of Yari’s Letter: Zamfara Assembly nullifies pension for ex-governors

“In Osun State, the law guiding the payment of pensions to former governors and their deputies is cited as the Pension (Governor and Deputy Governor) Law 2001. The law stipulates that former governors and former deputy governors shall be entitled to a pension at the rate equivalent to the incumbent officeholder.

“In Zamfara State, pension law allows former governors to receive pension for life; two personal staff; two vehicles replaceable every four years; two drivers, free medical care for the former governors and deputies and their immediate families in Nigeria or abroad; a 4-bedroom house in Zamfara and an office; free telephone and 30 days paid vacation outside Nigeria.

“Under the Lagos Pension Law, a former governor will enjoy the following benefits for life: two houses, one in Lagos and another in Abuja estimated to cost between N500m and N700m. Others are six brand new cars every three years; furniture allowance of 300 percent of annual salary every two years, and a close to N2.5m as pension (about N30m pension annually).

“In Rivers, the state law provides 100 percent of annual basic salaries for ex-governors and deputies, one residential house for a former governor anywhere of his choice in Nigeria; one residential house anywhere in Rivers for the deputy, three cars for the ex-governor every four years; two cars for the deputy every four years; 300 per cent of annual basic salary every four years for furniture; 10 percent of annual basic salary for house maintenance.

“Similarly, the Kano State Pension Rights of Governor and Deputy Governor Law 2007 provides for 100 percent of annual basic salaries for former governor and deputy; furnished and equipped office; a 6-bedroom house; well-furnished 4-bedroom for deputy, plus an office; free medical treatment along with immediate families within and outside Nigeria where necessary; two drivers; and a provision for a 30- day vacation within and outside Nigeria.

“In Sokoto State, former governors and deputy governors are to receive N200m and N180m respectively being monetization for other entitlements which include domestic aides, residence, and vehicles that could be renewed after every four years”.

What To Do

We need to be frank with ourselves, these are benefits enjoyed in a country where we are experiencing difficulty in the economy which has ultimately led to unemployment, underemployment, insurgency and an increasing rise in social vices. They call it a recession. Even if there is a recession, it should not last for long once the government sets its priorities straight.

The Zamfara state governor Bello Mutawallen Maradun said this in an interview “Anyone that attains the position of governor, and other top political positions in the state were financially well off even before attaining the position”. But of course it is not enough for our ex-political leaders, they still need to cripple the economy to enrichen themselves more.

Some questions really need to be addressed. While occupying those positions, are these governors there to serve or loot? (Even after their tenure) Are they not holding that position for, at most, 8 years? Is that a reason to be entitled to pensions for life? Even if it was till death, must it be to the detriment of those they served while in office? As if that is not enough, how on earth can any public servant with conscience collect salaries and allowances as a senator or minister, and still have the audacity to claim pension’s equivalent to the salaries of a serving governor in Nigeria?

Our dear former leaders, when will you yield to your conscience and stop killing the states and country you were charged to serve?

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