28 February 2018

Nigeria: Saraki Expresses Happiness Over Stoppage of Pension to Ex-Governors, Deputies

Photo: Akilah Net
(file photo).

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has expressed happiness over the passage of a bill by the Kwara State House of Assembly to suspend payment of pension to former governors and their deputies who are holding political or public offices.

The bill was passed on Tuesday after the House considered a report of its Committee on Establishment and Public Service.

The lawmakers unanimously adopted the motion for the passage of the bill, which was moved by the Deputy House Leader, Segilola Abdulkadir.

Mr. Saraki, who is a former governor of Kwara, through a Facebook post on Wednesday, revealed that he, "had a hand in the passage of the bill."

"I am pleased that following my conversation with Kwara Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ali Ahmad, two months ago, the Bill to suspend the payment of Pension to former Governors and their Deputies when they hold a Political or Public office was passed into law yesterday by the Kwara House of Assembly," said the Senate president.

PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately verify Mr. Saraki's claims that he influenced the passage.

He added, "Moving forward, it is my hope that other State Assemblies take a cue from Kwara State and pass similar pieces of legislation into law."

Apart from Kwara, other states like Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Gombe, and Zamfara have enacted laws to provide outrageous pension to former governors and their deputies.

In Akwa Ibom, for instance, the law empowered the state government to spend about N200 million annually on the former governor, Godswill Akpabio, even while he is earning salary as a senator.

A Non-governmental Organisation in Nigeria, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has been in court since October 2017 to stop former governors, now serving as senators and ministers, from receiving double pay and life pensions.

"Public function should be exercised in the public interest. Double emoluments promote private self-interest or self-dealing. By signing double emoluments laws, which they knew or ought to know that they would be beneficiaries, these former governors have abused their entrusted positions, and thereby obtained an undue advantage, contrary to article 19 of the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party," SERAP stated in a document it filed before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

SERAP is asking the court to compel the Attorney General of the Federation to take legal steps to stop pensions for former governors and their deputies.

"Senators and ministers should not be receiving salaries and pensions running into billions of naira from states that are currently unwilling or unable to pay their workers' salaries and pensioners' entitlements. National and international laws implicitly forbid public officials entrusted with public resources from granting to themselves emoluments for life while serving in other public offices including as senators and ministers.

"Taking advantage of entrusted public offices and positions to enact laws to grant double emoluments and large severance benefits to serving public officials amounts to not only an abuse of office but also incorrect, dishonourable and improper performance of public functions, as per the provisions of paragraph 2 of article 8 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption," SERAP said in the court document.

Nigeria

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