SERAP Urges President Tinubu to Halt Life Pensions for Ministers-Governors
Former Governors' Double Pensions as Ministers Challenged by SERAP
In a letter dated August 19, 2023, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to put an end to the practice of former governors, who now hold ministerial positions in his administration, receiving life pensions and other allowances from their respective states while simultaneously serving as ministers.
In a bid to uphold constitutional legality and enhance financial responsibility, SERAP also appealed to President Tinubu to instruct these former governors to promptly reimburse any pensions and allowances they might have collected since leaving their gubernatorial offices to the public treasury.
The roster of former governors under scrutiny who now assume ministerial roles in the Tinubu administration includes: Badaru Abubakar, Nyesom Wike, Bello Matawalle, Adegboyega Oyetola, David Umahi, Simon Lalong, Atiku Bagudu, and Ibrahim Geidam.
In the missive directed to President Tinubu, the letter, signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, asserted, “The appointment of former governors who collect life pensions while serving as ministers is implicitly forbidden by the Nigerian Constitution 1999 as amended and the country’s international legal obligations.”
“Taking action to prevent former governors from receiving life pensions while serving as ministers would not only adhere to the public interest, but also recognize the prevailing severe economic conditions in the nation. The decisions you make about your ministerial appointments could significantly reflect on their conduct, integrity, and commitment to public service. Ultimately, the achievements of your administration could be shaped by the character and behavior of your appointed ministers.”
Oluwadare emphasized the incongruity of former governors benefiting from double financial remuneration, juxtaposing the financial difficulties experienced by many pensioners who go unpaid. The letter contended that life pensions for former governors who are concurrently serving as ministers flouted the principles of fairness and equity outlined in the Nigerian Constitution and the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
The organization also pointed out that the states implementing life pensions for former governors, such as Jigawa, Kebbi, Ebonyi, Yobe, and Rivers, were also grappling with salary arrears and economic constraints. These pension schemes often encompass lavish benefits including six vehicles every three years, residences in Lagos and Abuja with substantial monetary values, comprehensive medical provisions, and pensions for support staff.
In concluding the letter, SERAP acknowledged President Tinubu’s prior commitment to governing in accordance with the rule of law and promoting fairness and equity. The organization urged the President to demonstrate his dedication to these principles by eliminating the dichotomy between public office benefits and the actual needs of the nation.
The organization, while expressing hope for a response within 7 days, asserted its intention to take legal action if necessary, to ensure compliance with their request for the sake of public interest and transparency in governance.