.....reimburse any pensions and allowances they have received since leaving their gubernatorial positions, back to the public treasury.
By Olotu Appiah
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called upon President Bola Tinubu to halt the ongoing collection of life pensions and other allowances by former governors who are currently serving as ministers in his administration.
SERAP also urged the President to require these former governors-turned-ministers to promptly reimburse any pensions and allowances they have received since leaving their gubernatorial positions, back to the public treasury.
The list of ex-governors turned ministers in the Tinubu administration that are affected by this includes Badaru Abubakar, Nyesom Wike, Bello Matawalle, Adegboyega Oyetola, David Umahi, Simon Lalong, Atiku Bagudu, and Ibrahim Geidam.
In the letter to President Tinubu, dated August 19, 2023 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The appointment of former governors who collect life pensions while serving as ministers is implicitly forbidden by the Nigerian Constitution 1999 as amended and the country’s international legal obligations.”
“You would be acting in the public interest by stopping former governors now serving as ministers in your government from collecting life pensions, especially given the current grave economic realities in the country.
“If the ministers that the president appoints are those who collect life pensions rather than serve the public interest, then that may show little about the conduct and integrity of the ministers, but speak volumes about the exercise of presidential power of appointment.
“Nigerians will judge you in part by the conduct, integrity and honesty of the ministers that you appoint to work in your government. Ultimately, the success of your government would depend on the conduct of the ministers that you appoint.
“While many pensioners are not paid their pensions, former governors serving as ministers get paid huge severance benefits upon leaving office, and are poised to enjoy double emoluments on top of the opulence of political office holders.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“Stopping the former governors from collecting double emoluments would be entirely consistent with the proper exercise of your constitutional power to appoint ministers.
“Stopping the former governors from collecting life pensions would ensure that the country’s wealth and resources are used for the common good and benefit of the socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians rather than to satisfy the opulent lifestyle of a few politicians.
“Instructing the former governors now serving as ministers in your government to stop collecting life pensions from their states would also improve public confidence in the integrity and honesty of your government.
“The states currently implementing life pensions for former governors reportedly include: Jigawa, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Yobe, and Rivers. Many of these states owe workers’ salaries and remain the poorest in the country.
“Several of the pension laws in these states include provisions for six cars every three years, a house in Lagos worth N750 million, and another in Abuja worth N1 billion, unrestricted access to medical attention, and pensionable cooks, stewards, and gardeners.
“Other provisions 100 per cent annual salaries of the incumbent governor, security operatives and police officers permanently assigned to former governors.
“SERAP notes that in your inaugural speech as president you promised that your administration will be guided by ‘the principle of the rule of law, a shared sense of fairness and equity’, and that Nigeria will be impartially governed according to the constitution.
“Life pensions for former governors serving as ministers are entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.”
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