president buhari
president buhari

SEVENTEEN FORMER governors and three ex-deputy governors, currently serving in the Senate, are reportedly milking their states dry as the states struggle to meet up with their pension payments. The senators, whose average monthly salaries and allowances each range from N25 million to N30 million depending on their ranks, also draw salaries and other allowances from the federal government purse as due entitlements. Nigerian Pilot Saturday investigation shows that each senator earns at least N290 million annually, an amount that is far in excess to what the President of the United States of America receives for the duration of his four –year tenure. According to a report published in the US in February, President Barck Obama is paid $400, 000 a year, which translates to $33,333 each month. Going by current official rate of N283 per dollar it means that the US President earns a paltry N9, 433,239 million. True, he receives additional $50,000 yearly for extra expense allowance, but that still pales into insignificance compared to the minimum N290 million each senator in Nigeria gets yearly just for being a member of the upper legislative chamber. Former governors, who are now serving senators, are the embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who ruled Kwara State for eight years and has been in the Senate since 2011. The Deputy Minority leader, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, his former counterpart in Kano, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto, Jonah Jang of Plateau, Theodore Orji of Abia, and Adamu Aliero of Kebbi that served out his term as governor in 2011. Others, who had been in the Senate before 2011 include former Kabiru Gaya of Kano, Joshua Dariye of Plateau, Abdullahi Adamu of Nasarawa, Ahmed Sani Yarima of Zamfara, George Akume of Benue, Sam Egwu of Ebonyi, Isiaka Adeleke of Osun, Shaaba Lafiagi of Kwara, Danjuma Goje of Gombe, and Bukar Abba Ibrahim of Yobe. The three former deputy governors in the Senate are Ms Biodun Olujimi of Ekiti and Enyinaya Harcourt Abaribe of Abia. One may perhaps include Danladi Abubakar Sani who served as the acting governor of Taraba State in the list. Before living office, these governors were alleged to have arm-twisted their respective Houses of Assembly to approve not just severance allowances but a life pension of varying amount. For instance, in Lagos, a former governor is entitled to two houses, one each in Lagos and Abuja. These houses are roughly estimated at N500 million in Lagos and N700 million in Abuja. The bill to that effect was signed into in 2007 during the reign of the present national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The law further approves six new cars to be replaced every three years for the governor, a furniture allowance of at least 300 percent of the annual salary of the incumbent governor to be paid every two years, and a N30 million pension annually for life. The Lagos Pension Law equally approves security detail, free medicals for the ex-governor and his immediate families. Other benefits are 10 percent house maintenance, 30 percent car maintenance, 10 percent entertainment, 20 percent utility, and several domestic staff. In Rivers, the law provides 100 percent of annual basic salaries for the ex-governor and deputy, one residential house for the former governor “anywhere of his choice in Nigeria:” one residential house anywhere in Rivers for the deputy, three cars for the ex-governor every four years and two cares for the deputy every four years. A version of the law in Kwara State which came into effect in 2010 gives each former governor two cars and a security car, replaceable every three years, a “well-furnished 5-bedroom duplex,” furniture allowance of 300 per cent of his salary. It also provides for five personal staff, three SSS, free medical care for the governor and the deputy, 30 percent of salary for car maintenance, 20 per cent for utility, 10 percent for entertainment, 10 per cent for house maintenance. In Sokoto, former governors and deputy governors are to receive N200m and N180m respectively being monetization for other entitlements which include domestic aides, residence and vehicles that could be renewed after every four years. Section 2 (2) of 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.” Nigerian Pilot Saturday recalls the angst with which the public received the pension law for former elected governors and their deputies as proposed by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, but it sailed through as the House approved N200 million annual pay to ex governors and deputies. A pension for life at a rate equivalent to the salary of the incumbent governor/deputy governor, respectively. The law also provides for a new official car and a utility vehicle every four years, a personal aide, provision of adequate security. Similarly, the ex-governor and the deputy enjoy the provision of a cook, chauffeurs and security guards at a sum not exceeding N5million per month and N2.5million for the deputy governor. In addition, it provided for free medical services for governor and spouse at an amount not exceeding N100million for the governor per annum and N50million for the deputy governor. Also, there is a five-bedroom mansion in Abuja and Akwa Ibom and allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary for the deputy governor. Furniture allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary every four years in addition to severance gratuity were also in the offing. The Zamfara version of the law, signed in 2006, gives former governors pension for life, two personal staff, two vehicles replaceable every four years, two drivers, free medical for the former governors and deputies and their immediate families in Nigeria or abroad. The law also gives the former governors a 4-bedroom house in Zamfara and an office, free telephone and 30 days paid vacation outside Nigeria. The Gombe State House of Assembly was not left in the frenzy to the governor as it approved N300 million executive pension benefits for the ex-governor.
Rabiu Kwakwanso predecessor signed the Kano State Pension Rights of Governor and Deputy Governor Law 2007 and it provides for 100 percent of annual basic salaries for former governor and deputy. Furnished and equipped office, as well as a 6-bedroom house; “well-furnished” 4-bedroom for deputy, plus an office. According to the law, the ex- governor is also entitled to free medical treatment along with his immediate families within and outside Nigeria where necessary. It is same for deputy. Two drivers are also for former governor and a driver for his deputy; and personal staff below the rank of a principal administrative officer and a personal assistant not below grade level 10. There is a provision for a 30- day vacation within and outside Nigeria. Though no fewer than 27 states are in anguish over the downturn in the revenue accruable to states from the Federation Account, none has had the gut to stop the pension payments to the serving senators despite having legal backing for such action. Section 2 (a) of the Code of Conduct Bureau law forbids a public officer from receiving paid emoluments from public office if he or she is being paid same emoluments from other public office. It says to wit: public officer shall not, “receive or be paid the emoluments of any public office at the same time as he receives or is paid emoluments of any other public office; or (b) except where he is not employed on full time basis, engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade; but nothing in this sub- paragraph shall prevent a public officer from engaging in farming.” Also, in Section 4 it says, “A public officer shall not, after his retirement from public service and while receiving pension from public funds, accept more than one remunerative position as Chairman, Director or employee of – (a) a company owned or controlled by the government; or (b) any public authority. A retired public servant shall not receive any other remuneration from public funds in addition to his pension and the emolument of such one remunerative position.” Section 14 of the same law exempted lawmakers from the above provisions thus: “In its application to public officers –(a) members of legislative houses shall be exempted from the Provisions of paragraph 4 of this Code; and (b) the National Assembly may by law exempt any cadre of public officers from the provisions of paragraph 4and 11 of this Code if it appears to it that their position in the Public Service is below the rank which it considers appropriate for the application of the provisions.” Perhaps of the comment of one of the beneficiaries, ex-governor of Kebbi State, Senator Adamu Aliero is instructive. “There is nothing wrong for a former governor now serving as senator or minister to be collecting pension. It is consistent with the pension law and absolutely nothing is wrong,” he was quoted to have said in swift reaction on the matter.

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