The revelation that Nigerian governors live the best lives in and out of office is no news; what is interesting is the disparity and differences in individual entitlements.
Despite poverty, youth unemployment, neglect of babies and the aged, infrastructure deficit, underdevelopment of rural areas, high debt profile, and the likes, many states have continued to pamper and enrich ex-governors.
To maintain the lifestyle, their ‘excellencies’ and deputies get posh houses, expensive vehicles, paid vacation, medical insurance, and protective services.
According to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), at least 22 states have passed laws allowing payment of life pensions to former governors and other ex-public officials.
They are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Imo, Lagos, Niger, Osun, Oyo, Rivers, Yobe, and Zamfara.
SERAP has been a strong advocate for an end to the huge remittances.
In March, the federal government asked the body to send a list of former governors and ministers that have received and/or receiving pensions.
Abukabar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice said the request was to ensure compliance with a court judgment on a suit by the rights group.
The AGF’s letter with ref: MJ/LIT/ABJ/CMC/661/793 was signed by Anne C. Akwiwu (Mrs), Director of Civil Litigation and Public Law Department in the ministry.
Lagos was reportedly the first state to implement the pension law. It was signed in 2007 by then Governor Bola Tinubu weeks before he completed his two-term tenure.
Tinubu, a former Senator, is the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party under which Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and President Muhammadu Buhari were elected.
On Tuesday, November 10, Sanwo-Olu announced that the pension law will be repealed.
He made the disclosure during the 2021 budget estimate presentation to the House of Assembly.
The Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law No 11 Official Gazette of 2007 states that former governors are entitled to a house each in preferred locations in Lagos and Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Section 2 reads: “One residential house each for the governor and the deputy governor at any location of their choice in Lagos State and one residential house in the Federal Capital Territory for the governor on two consecutive terms.”
The law provides for six new cars every three years, 100 per cent of the basic salary of the incumbent governor (N7.7million per annum), and free health care for the beneficiary and family members.
Former governors will be entitled to furniture allowance – 300 percent of annual basic salary (N23.3million); house maintenance allowance – 10 percent of annual basic salary (N778,296); utility allowance – 20 percent of annual basic salary (N1.5million), and car maintenance allowance – 30 percent of the annual basic salary (N2.3million).
There is also an entertainment allowance, 10 percent of the annual basic salary (N778,296); and a personal assistant who will earn 25 percent of the governor’s annual basic salary (N1.9million).
A former governor is also entitled to eight policemen and two Department of State Services (DSS) operatives for life.