As 18 Govs Retire: States To Spend More On Outrageous Pension, Severance Packages
Money being expended on former governors by state governments as pension and other allowances would soon go up as 18 governors leave office in 22 days, Daily Trust on Sunday reports. Uproar has been trailing the pension schemes of former governors, which have been described as bogus by activists and other stakeholders in the country, […]
The post As 18 Govs Retire: States To Spend More On Outrageous Pension, Severance Packages
appeared first on Daily Trust
Money being expended on former governors by state governments as pension and other allowances would soon go up as 18 governors leave office in 22 days, Daily Trust on Sundayreports.
Uproar has been trailing the pension schemes of former governors, which have been described as bogus by activists and other stakeholders in the country, who are calling for the halt of the package.
Daily Trust on Sundayreports that the trend started in 2007 when the first set of governors who were elected in 1999 completed their second and final terms.
Tongues have been wagging over mouth-watering retirement packages for former governors and their deputies.
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By May 29, this year, no fewer than 18 governors will be completing their second term in office. They are Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
Others are Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Atiku Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi), Abubakar Bello (Niger), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) and Darius Ishaku (Taraba).
Our correspondent learnt that after leaving office, Nyesom Wike and his deputy, Dr Ipalibo Banigo, will enjoy ‘generous’ benefits as approved by the Rivers State pensions law, 2012. A former transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, is also a beneficiary of the law.
The law states that three new vehicles, which would be replaced every four years, would be purchased for former governors. This is in addition to the payment of 100 per cent of their basic salaries, 300 per cent of their annual basic salaries for furniture, free medical services and provision for entertainment. Their deputies also enjoy certain perks.
The pension law for former governors and their deputies, which was authorised by the administration of former Governor Rotimi Amaechi, also made other provisions, such as two choice houses in any area of their choice in Rivers State and Abuja.
The law also provides that 20 per cent, 10 per cent and another 10 per cent of the annual salary of the incumbent government should be earmarked for utility, accommodation maintenance and entertainment.
In Kano, the pension law for former governors and their deputies was enacted in 2007 by the administration of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau when he held sway as the governor of the state. It provided, among other things, that former governors and their deputies were entitled to 100 per cent of the incumbent’s basic salary, as well as a well-furnished six-bedroom house and a well-furnished four-bedroom house for a former deputy governor.
It also provides for free medical treatment for them and members of their families, as well as a 30-day vacation within and outside Nigeria annually.
They are also entitled to an office, two drivers (for former governors) and a driver (for former deputy governors), a personal staff not below the rank of a principal administrative officer and an aide not below grade level 10.
In 2018, the state assembly attempted to amend the law to “reduce unnecessary spending of public funds through payments to former governors and deputy governors, who are also holding political offices after their tenures.”
The amendment was meant to provide for a clause to suspend the payment of the monthly pension to the former governor or deputy pending when the person would no longer hold any other political office, as well as ensure that any deputy governor who later becomes governor would not continue to draw the pension for a deputy governor.
It was, however, unclear whether or not the state assembly concluded the process for the amendment before its term elapsed in 2019. The assembly could not be immediately reached for comment on this at the time of filing this report.
But in 2021, a former governor of the state, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who, after his tenure as governor in 2015, became a senator, alleged that the state government did not pay him his entitlement from 2015 to 2021. He said this was because of the animosity between him and the government, adding that he was the only former governor not receiving his entitlements.
Meanwhile, the outgoing governor of the state, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and his deputy, Nasiru Gawuna, are also expected to begin to benefit from the state’s extant pension law for former governors and their deputies like their predecessors, according to the Speaker of the state assembly, Ibrahim Chidari, who was recently quoted to have said, “Since the pension and severance packages enjoyed by ex-governors and their deputies is a creation of law, there is no need to begrudge them.”
In Lagos, the ex-governors of the state who are benefitting from the state pensions for governors are Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the president-elect, his successor, Babatunde Fashola, and the immediate past governor, Akinwumi Ambode.
The Lagos State Governor and Deputy Governor Pension’s Law of 2007 provides that, “A former governor is entitled to six new cars every three years and a house in Lagos and another in Abuja.
“Conservatively, a house in Lagos will cost N750m and one in Abuja N1billion. The former governor and family (spouse and children both married and unmarried) are entitled to free medical care.”
An ex-governor is also entitled to a cook, steward, gardener and other domestic staff, who are pensionable.
They are also entitled to 100 per cent of their annual basic salaries, as well as three cars, two back-up cars and one pilot car for the ex-governor every three years; two cars, two back-up cars and one pilot car for the deputy every three years.
They will enjoy 300 per cent of annual basic salaries every two years, 10 per cent of annual basic salaries for domestic staff, including cooks, stewards, gardeners and others (no limit), who shall be pensionable.
They and members of their families (not just spouses) are also entitled to free medical care.
Also, two operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), eight policemen (four each for house and personal security) for the ex-governor; one operative of the DSS and two policemen (one each for house and personal security) for the deputy, shall be provided for them.
But in 2021, the state House of Assembly amended the law by slashing the benefits and emoluments by 50 per cent.
The House approved the recommendation following the presentation of a report by the then chairman, House Committee on Establishment, Training and Pension, Yinka Ogundimu.
Ogundimu, representing Agege II, said the committee reduced their benefits and other emoluments by 50 per cent based on the present economic situation of the state.
The lawmaker also said the committee expunged the provision of houses in Abuja and Lagos for former governors.
In Kaduna State, there are three former governors: Ahmed Makarfi, Namadi Sambo and Mukhtar Ramalan Yero. El-Rufai will join them in 22 days.
Daily Trust on Sundaygathered that in May 2020, the Kaduna State House of Assembly amended the Pension and Gratuity (Governor and Deputy Governor) Law, 2006.
When contacted, Professor Salamatu Isah, the executive secretary of the State Pension Bureau, said it did not deal with governors’ gratuity in their pension law.
“We don’t deal with governors’ gratuity in our pension laws. You can ask the attorney-general; they are in charge of the laws, so he can explain better,” he said.
It was gathered that one of the former governors in 2019 said they were paid N741,000 monthly pension.
In Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel and his deputy, Moses Ekpo, will benefit from the governors and deputy governors pension law, 2014, which approves life pension for them. They will enjoy an equivalent of their annual basic salaries.
A former governor of the state and minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godwill Akpabio, who is also a senator-elect, is among the beneficiaries of the law.
They will also enjoy new official cars and utility vehicles once in every four years, personal aides and security men, funds to employ cooks, chauffeurs and security guards at not less than N5million and N2.5 million monthly respectively.
The law also has provision for free medical services for the ex-governors and their deputies, as well as their spouses at a cost per annum. They are entitled to befitting houses not below a 5-bedroom lush apartment, either in the state or in Abuja.
Others include furniture allowance once every four years, yearly maintenance and fuelling of vehicles, and severance gratuity of 300 per cent of the annual basic salaries, yearly utility and entertainment allowance of 100 per cent of annual basic salaries.
A bill for a law seeking to place ex-governors of Benue State and their deputies on bogus gratuity, pension, and other benefits is raising dust, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.
The governor-elect of Benue State, The Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia, has raised the alarm over the bill, saying it seeks only the interest of the outgoing governor.
Initiated by the outgoing governor, Samuel Ortom, the bill titled: “A bill for a law to make provisions for the maintenance of former governors of Benue State and their deputies,” has passed its first reading.
A copy of the draft bill seen by Daily Trust on Sunday indicates that section 2(a) (i) makes provision for the payment to the former governors of a monthly “stipend” equivalent to the salary of a sitting governor, while section 2(a) (ii) makes provision for the payment to all former deputy governors of a monthly “stipend” equivalent to the salary of a sitting deputy governor.
Similarly, section 2(b) provides for the building of a permanent residential accommodation in any town “of their choice” in Nigeria, while sections 2(c) and (h) provide for the provisions of 4 new cars every four years for the former governors and two new cars every four years for former deputy governors.
The cars shall be maintained at the expense of the state, the bill states.
In the same vein, sections 2(d) and (e) provide for six personal staff for the former governors and three for the former deputy governors to be paid for by the state, while section 2(f) provides for a 24-hour security surveillance and guard for all former governors and their deputies, at their discretion.
While section 2 (g) provides for free medical treatment for them, their spouses, and at least four children under 18, section 3 provides that all the above expenses can be monetised.
Also, section 4 entitles former governors of the state to two vacations abroad annually and the former deputy governors to one vacation abroad annually.
Further scrutiny indicates that it is expected to take retroactive effect from 1999, implying that it will cover former governors and their deputies like Senator George Akume and his deputy, the late Ogiri Ajene; Sen Gabriel Suswam and his deputy, Steven Lawani, as well as the outgoing governor, Samuel Ortom and his deputy, Benson Abounu, an engineer.
It was also gathered that all the proposed entitlements are for life, even as the expenses are to be charged on the consolidated revenue fund of the state (meaning that they are on first line charge) and are to take priority over other expenses like salaries, pensions and gratuity of the citizens.
In the same vein, all the entitlements, except the vacation, can be converted into cash and paid to the beneficiaries.
Elected governors and their deputies will continue to enjoy their basic salaries, even after leaving offices in Sokoto State.
The Sokoto State Grant of Pension (governor and deputy governor) law, 2013 states that, “The total annual pension to be paid to the governor and deputy governor shall be at a rate equivalent to the annual total salary of the incumbent governor or deputy governor of the state respectively.”
The law, however, exempted those persons who were removed from office by the process of impeachment or for breach of any provision of the constitution.
According to the law, the pension should be charged upon the consolidated revenue fund of the state.
The governors and the deputies were also entitled to other privileges, such as personal aides, official vehicles with drivers and free medical treatment for themselves, their spouses and biological children both within and outside the country.
They shall also be provided with furnished and equipped offices and residence in any location of their choice in addition to the payment of all their utilities, such as electricity and water bills.
Based on the law, all elected governors of the state from October, 1979 till date stand to benefit from these packages, including those who died while in office.
“Where the governor or the deputy governor dies in office before the expiration of his tenure, his estate shall be paid pension pro rata the number of years he spent in relation to his tenure of office,” it stated.
The law also gave room for monetisation, “provided that upon the request of the governor or the deputy governor, the items specified in the schedules shall be monetised.”
The Taraba State House of Assembly passed a law in May 2015 on pension for governors and deputies.
Under the law, the governor and his deputy are to get N236million after their tenure, but it is not clear if any former governor or deputy received such an amount as pension.
Findings revealed that from 1999 till date, Jolly Nyame served as governor of the state twice and he was succeeded by the late Danbaba Suntai, while Garba Umar and Sani Abubakar Danladi served as deputies and acting governors of the state respectively.
The incumbent governor, Darius Ishaku, took over from Sani Abubakar Danladi in 2015. Suntai died during his second tenure.
Sources told Daily Trust on Sundaythat it is difficult to know when the governors get their pension because they usually pay themselves before leaving office.
But Garba Umar was denied his pension after a gang-up by those opposed to his emergence as substantive governor, even after the late Suntai was incapacitated to serve as governor of the state.
Governor Matawalle was yet to revisit the issue of the jumbo package for Zamfara’s ex governors.
It could be recalled that in November 2019, Matawalle repealed a law made by lawmakers paving way for a jumbo package for 12 past leaders of the state.
There are three former governors, three deputies, three former speakers and three deputies. The law at that time was believed to be enacted by former Governor Abdulaziz Yari.
According to the law, the 12 past political office holders in Zamfara State would be going home with a total of N702 million as annual allowances.
Now that Matawalle has lost his reelection bid to Dauda Lawal Dare, the outgoing governor has not make any comment on whether his administration would revisit the issue of the jumbo pay for past leaders or not.
The number will increase to 16 after Matawalle hands over the mantle of state leadership to Dare on May 29, 2023.
It’s impoverishing states – Activists
Reacting to the packages, the national coordinator of the Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community (AKHRC), Clifford Thomas, said it was wrong to invest much state funds on former governors and their deputies in the name of pension, to the detriment of the people.
He said, “In the face of hunger, poverty and unemployment, you are spending money on those who already have and have made so much money in just eight years they served the state. They are collecting lifetime benefits that a civil servant who spent 35 years does not have.
“The money they are collecting would be enough to pay 1,000 people and all the benefits. What is the sense in it? It is irresponsible. It is an act premised on greed and irresponsibility.”
Thomas said the various pension packages were a liability to the affected states, and as such, resources would have been used to stimulate their economies.
“The implication is that instead of having good infrastructure, primary and secondary health care in their states, they have chosen to go on medical tourism to further kill the opportunity for us to have good hospitals,” he added.
Also reacting, the chairman of the Coalition against Corruption and Bad Governance (CACOBAG), Comrade Toyin Raheem, said such pension packages ought to have been declared illegal, null and void.
He said, “You would observe that civil servants would have served for 35 years before they are entitled to pension, and many of them died while waiting for their pension. But a governor would serve for a maximum of eight years and enjoy pension for life.
“The money should have been used to provide social amenities for the people.”
He challenged state lawmakers to take bold steps and scrap such pensions instead of just reducing it.
“You would discover that immediately they leave office, many of them would go to the National Assembly, where they collect salaries, in addition to the pension approved by their states. It should be eradicated and not just reduced,” he said.
Speaking on the development, a human rights activist, Ibrahim Tudun Doki, while advocating the reconsideration of the law by the legislative arm of government, described it as senseless and unjustifiable.
“We have two former governors going to the Senate. They will continue enjoying these outrageous amounts and at the same time receiving salaries in the Senate which is very unfair, considering the current situation in the state, where even workers’ salaries are not being paid when due,” he said.
From Mohammed Ibrahim Yaba (Kaduna), Clement A. Oloyede (Kano), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Iniabasi Umo (Uyo), Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos), Fidelis Macleva (Abuja), Hope Abah Emmanuel (Benue), Shehu Umar (Gusau), Abubakar Auwal( Sokoto) & Magaji Isa Hunkuyi (Jalingo)
The post As 18 Govs Retire: States To Spend More On Outrageous Pension, Severance Packagesappeared first on Daily Trust.
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