'Double-dipping' lawmakers at the 9th NASS: Issues & Matters Arising!

July 5, 2019

As citizens, we may not be outraged about many things: people in power denying Freedom of Information, minimum wage bill for workers, social security for the downtrodden, bigoted politicians lauding the great M.K.O Abiola for the June 12 struggle, heads of agencies created to protect the public bent on destroying those agencies, the list goes on.

However, we must all be outraged by legislators who earn a salary for being a legislator and also collect a pension earned by working for many years in a job that had a pension as part of their compensation package.

Originally, “double-dipping” referred to collecting two salaries at the public treasury. The term has now grown to include collecting a government pension while collecting a taxpayer-financed salary as an elected public official.

With this development, no fewer than 15 ex-governors are now “double-dipping” lawmakers in the ninth Senate, which was inaugurated in June. Based on the results of the senatorial election released across the country by INEC, they include two ex-governors of Abia State, Orji Kalu (Abia North) and his successor, Theodore Orji (Abia Central). In Borno State, the former Governor, Kashim Shettima, won the senatorial poll to represent the state’s central district.

In the Ebonyi North, a former governor, Sam Egwu was re-elected to represent the area. Also re-elected was the ex-Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central). The former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, also emerged as the senator for the Imo West amidst controversies.

The former Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, who represented the Ogun Central District between 2003 and 2007, returned to the Senate for the second time. A former Senator and ex-Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, is also returning to the Senate, where he represented Enugu East between 2007 and 2011. Also, an ex-Governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, will be representing the state’s central district.

In Nasarawa State, Tanko Makura, is also now in the Senate to represent the Nasarawa South. One of his predecessors, Adamu Abdullahi, secured the third term to represent the Nasarawa West in the Senate. Another ex-Governor, Aliyu Wamakko, also returned to the Senate for another term to represent the Sokoton North.

Among the Double-dipping' lawmakers at the 9th NASS is the former Governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Geidam, who won the poll to represent Yobe East. A former Governor of Kebbi State, Adamu Aliero, also won a third term in the Senate, where he is representing the Kebbi Central District.

While the practice of "double-dipping" remains a grey area in Nigeria's polity. The larger issue, however, is also the National Assembly's total package for both chambers of the parliament which remains opaque to citizens.

Unarguably and more importantly, ending the practice of simultaneously collecting two government salaries should and must be expanded to include in the narrative of the Lawan and Femi led 9th National Assembly.

It is a law in Kwara State to suspend payment of pension to former governors and deputies when they hold a political/elective office. Other state lawmakers should also pass similar bill.