Growing National Awareness of the Harm ex-Governors and others are causing the Nigerian Economy


By Atilade Atoyebi

Courtesy of my friend, Joshua.

Can you imagine this scenario? A Governor spends four or eight years in office as the case may be. It is either he stays in office for one term, losses reelection bid or he rules for two terms of eight years. It doesn’t matter. The House of Assembly in his State had prepared for him, a rosy future. A law had been enacted that guarantees him a huge gratuity, a monthly pension in millions of Naira, a house in his State capital or in any other place of his choice, another mansion in Abuja, the Federal capital city. He is entitled to two, three or even four cars at the expense of the State every two or four years. He goes home after leaving office with a retinue of pensionable staff to be paid by the State. There are more pecks like family leaves outside Nigeria, free or monetized medical attention, etc.

These largesse in varying forms extend to out of office former deputy Governors, former Speakers and their deputies. Of course outgoing members of the State Assembly would go home with mouthwatering gratuities.

Of the 36 States of the Federation, 22 of them have saddled themselves with these burdens of catering for the opulent lives of former Governors, their deputies, former Speakers and their deputies.
Like saving the worst for last, high ranking officers of the National Assembly that ceased to be functional in the place are enjoying financial benefits in gratuity with paraphernalia of their offices virtually in tact.

Compare these with the retirement benefits of public servants that retired at the age of 60 or had to leave the service after working for 35 years. They go home with the financial outcome of the slide rule and template of the law on contributory pension. There are pensioners in this country whose take home monthly pension is less than N10,000 where Yari, the former Governor of Zamfara State who served for only eight years is demanding his unpaid N10,000,000 monthly upkeep allowance. You can see the gap.

The illegality of paying former political office holders has been a matter of litigation. An Appeal Court actually ruled a few months ago against such payments. The Nigerian Union of Pensioners jumped up for joy when the Courts intervened in the matter. The Head of Information Unit of the Union, Bunmi Ogunkolade was quoted as saying, “The practice of paying such monies to them is unsustainable and should not be allowed.” Ogunkolade went on: “ To even conceive such payment amounts to gross injustice. For the present Administration to be seen as being serious about fighting corruption, it must begin the process of recouping payments already effected.”

Now in specific terms, some former Governors who had served or are serving as Ministers or as lawmakers in the National Assembly were taken to court to stop receiving pension from their States. They are: Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Chris Ngige (Anambra State) Babatunde Fashola (( Lagos State) who had denied collecting the pension, former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki (Kwara State) whose State government made the move to stop the payment and others. A Court in Lagos has now ruled that the likes of those people should stop collecting the benefits attached to their former offices. Previous collections should also be refunded.

There is no doubt that this matter will continue as a battle in the courts of justice. It is getting into the consciousness of the people and therefore seeping into the court of public opinion. Public office holders in the past, present and the future have set themselves up.
The exposure of Yari’s demand has caused the Zamfara House of Assembly to abrogate the law backing up such payment. The State Governor has accented to the Bill to that effect. Let’s see how it goes!

Written by Atilade Atoyebi