December 4, 2020

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Kwara to stop pension for Saraki, other past governors

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The governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has announced plans to improve the human capital development in the state by cancelling the law that awards pension to former governors and their deputies.

“Our state needs all the resources it can get to improve our human capital development. I believe our limited resources are better spent on tackling the question of poverty and youth unemployment.

“In line with our campaign mantra and the yearnings of our people, next week I will be sending a bill to the State House of Assembly to revoke the law awarding pension packages to former governors and former deputy governors in Kwara State,” he said on Friday.

The major victims of this action would be the former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his protégé, Abdulfatah Ahmed, who governed the state for 16 years altogether.

This is coming days after a similar move was announced in Lagos State. The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said it has begun the move to repeal the law providing payment of pension to ex-governors and their deputies.

“Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members of the House, in light of keeping the costs of governance low and to signal selflessness in public service, we will be sending a draft executive bill to the House imminently for the repeal of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), which provides for payment of pension and other entitlements to former Governors and their Deputies,” the governor told the Lagos Assembly.

If successful, the law will affect a leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, and the current minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola – two former governors of the state.

In the past years, the payment of huge amounts as entitlements to former governors, a subject of discourse in Nigeria, has been described as “frivolous and wasteful”, considering the meagre resources available.

How it came to be

In 2010, Kwara State, under Mr Saraki, enacted a law which gives former governors of the state two cars and a security car, a 5-bedroom duplex, furniture allowance of 300 per cent of his salary; five personal staff, three security operatives, free medical care for the governor and the deputy, 30 per cent of salary for car maintenance, 20 per cent for utility, 10 per cent for entertainment, 10 per cent for house maintenance.

Mr Saraki benefitted from the law after he left office, with many critics saying he essentially put such largesse in place for himself after office.

Nevertheless, in 2018, Mr Saraki’s successor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, called for the amendment of the law. The amendment was to suspend the entitlements while the erstwhile governors and their deputies hold new political or public offices.

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The passage of the amendment bill followed a public outcry that former governors’ pensions were a fiscal burden on the states and that some of them were receiving it even while holding other public offices.

In Mr Saraki’s case, he received the N252 million even while receiving the salaries and allowances of a serving senator.

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