SERAP urges Tinubu to stop ex-governors serving as ministers from collecting life pension

SOCIO-ECONOMIC Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged President Bola Tinubu to instruct the former governors to stop collecting life pensions, exotic cars and other allowances from their states while serving as ministers in his administration.

The organisation also appealed to Tinubu to direct the former governors to immediately return any pension and allowances that they might have collected since leaving office to the public treasury.

SERAP, in a letter dated August 19,  and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare,  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.”

The ICIR in an earlier report, disclosed that Tinubu has so far assigned ministerial portfolios to eight past governors. The president initially submitted names of nine ex-governors to the Senate for confirmation but the former governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai, was not confirmed due to what the Senate described as ‘security clearance.’

The former governors confirmed as the ministers in the Tinubu administration are: Badaru Abubakar, Nyesom Wike, Bello Matawalle, Adegboyega Oyetola, David Umahi, Simon Lalong, Atiku Bagudu and Ibrahim Geidam.

Stating the need to stop the ex-governors from receiving pensions, SERAP explained that the president would be acting in the public interest given the current grave economic realities in the country.

SERAP, in the letter, also pointed out that while many pensioners are owed arrears of their pensions, former governors serving as ministers get paid huge severance benefits upon leaving office and are poised to enjoy double payments on top of the opulence of political officeholders.

SERAP, meanwhile, threaten to take legal action against Tinubu’s administration if he fails to order the ex-governors in his administration to stop taking life pension within seven days.

According to SERAP, stopping the former governors from collecting double emoluments would be entirely consistent with the proper exercise of your constitutional power to appoint ministers.

“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,” the statement added.

    The organisation also noted that life pensions for former governors serving as ministers are inconsistent with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.

    “The convention, specifically in paragraph 1 of article 8 requires you and your government to promote integrity, honesty and responsibility in the management of public resources.

    “Furthermore, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, in a judgment dated November 26 2019, also indicated that double emoluments for former governors are unacceptable, unconstitutional and illegal.”

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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