Ex-Governors, Pension Payments and Other Entitlements: Matters Arising! –Ishola Adebayo

Feb. 3, 2017

We need to be frank with ourselves, there is plenty in Nigeria. I mean, in terms of resources be it human or material. But then, we are experiencing difficulty in the economy of our country which has ultimately led to unemployment, underemployment and an increasing rise in social vices. They call it recession. Despite the “plenty” we shouldn’t be going through recession. Even if there is recession, it shouldn’t last for long once the government sets its priorities straight. As usual, the mismanagement of funds is unexpectedly the order of things in the society. Corruption and unnecessary nepotism dictates the way we do our things. Why won’t there be recession? No wonder the issue of misplaced priorities comes into mind when financial mismanagement pops up. The people who need it most don’t get it. The rich get richer at the expense of the poor, who get poorer by the day.

As an open secret, it is no news that former state chief executives in the country are enjoying series of humongous payouts which they term as pension allowance. These former governors, despite irregularities in their states, get massive allowances as being past governor bearing an 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 amongst others: Vehicle renewal & maintenance, housing allowance & salaries.

Let us go into facts and figures. Nigeria spent close to N40 billion on pension of former Governors and former Deputy Governors in the last couple of months. According to a major newspaper in the country, over N37.367 billion was expended on servicing 47 former governors from 21 of the nation’s states in pension payments and provision of houses, staff and motor vehicles replaceable between three and four years. According to the report, payment of pension to former governors over a four year cycle are highest in Bauchi, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Lagos States with former governors drawing N23.18 billion N2.795 billion, N2.043 billion and N1.606 billion respectively over four years. Even Bauchi which is one of the poorest state in the country? Talk about misplaced priorities or continuous greed?

Funny enough, these former executives “arm-twist” their state legislatures while in office for the purpose of these entitlements once they leave office. To even think that this scenario occurred in Edo state which had a former labor union leader as its governor. While in office, Comrade Adams Oshiomole was able to pass an obscene pension law for himself and his Deputy which entitled them to the provision of a building valued at about N200 million for a former governor and N100 million for his deputy.

Reports has it that these pension benefits for former State Chief Executives are aside the prescription of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC which prescribes 300 per cent severance for the Governors as stated in the Certain Political Office Holders and Judicial Officers Remuneration Act. According to the provisions of the RMAFC, these people enjoy:

(a). Brand new cars renewable every three to four years. (b). Accommodation at the State capital and sometimes in Abuja; (c). 30-day-paid holiday outside the country and free medical treatment for the former Governors and their immediate family members.

From another dimension, twenty-one senators are currently receiving pensions from government as ex-governors and deputy governors. Some questions really need to be address, while occupying those positions, are they 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 is 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?

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

To be candid, all is adding up to the political and economic exasperation of the masses. For God’s sake, a lot must be done to change the value orientation of these politicians. If indeed they have the interest of people at heart, there are some over-enjoyment they amass for themselves. Drastic actionable points must be looked into.

As concerned Nigerians, we pray the allowances of the legislative members are reviewed and these funds should be pumped into the economy. In fact, once these former executives hold an official position after their tenure ends, they should be stripped of any benefits they should get as being ex-governors. Even if they do not hold any post, it is of serious necessity that their benefits are being reviewed on a regular basis. Our fight against corruption won’t be complete if we don’t access these things, people are really suffering.

Instead of inviting the finance minister to address the economic recession, our different arms of government should call themselves to order. Their “living large” is at the expense of the common man whom they claim they are protecting. As law abiding citizens, Nigerians should continue to observe their human virtues and their fear of God. Even religion has said that we are taking nothing to our grave once we are dead. Change shouldn’t exempt our elected serving and non-serving public officials.

Our dear politicians, we hope you’d yield to your conscience and stop amassing public funds to the detriment of ordinary Nigerians.