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SERAP urges Tinubu to stop former governors serving as ministers from collecting pension

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged President Bola Tinubu to “publicly instruct” his ministers-designate to stop collecting life pensions, exotic cars and other allowances from their states while they serve as ministers.

SERAP also urged the President to “instruct the former governors to immediately return any pension and allowances that they may have collected since leaving office to the public treasury.”

The former governors now ministers-designate include: Badaru Abubakar; Nyesom Wike; Bello Matawalle; Adegboyega Oyetola; David Umahi; Simon Lalong; Atiku Bagudu and Ibrahim Geidam.

A letter dated August 19, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, reads: “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.

“You would be acting in the public interest by stopping former governors now serving as ministers in your government from collecting life pensions, especially given the current grave economic realities in the country.

“If the ministers that the president appoints are those who collect life pensions rather than serve the public interest, then that may show little about the conduct and integrity of the ministers but speak volumes about the exercise of presidential power of appointment.

“Nigerians will judge you in part by the conduct, integrity and honesty of the ministers that you appoint to work in your government. Ultimately, the success of your government would depend on the conduct of the ministers that you appoint.

“While many pensioners are not paid their pensions, former governors serving as ministers get paid huge severance benefits upon leaving office and are poised to enjoy double emoluments on top of the opulence of political office holders. 

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.

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest” 

“According to our information, the following former governors are now ministers in your administration: Badaru Abubakar (former governor of Jigawa State and Minister of Defence); and Nyesom Wike (former governor of River State and FCT Minister).

“Others include Bello Matawalle (former governor of Zamfara State and Minister of State for Defence); Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola (former governor of Osun State and Minister of Transportation); and David Umahi (Minister of Works).

“Others are Simon Bako Lalong (former governor of Plateau State and Minister of Labour and Employment); Atiku Bagudu (former governor of Kebbi State and Minister of Budget and Economic Planning); Ibrahim Geidam (former governor of Yole State and Minister of Police of Affairs.

“The states currently implementing life pensions for former governors reportedly include Jigawa, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Yobe, and Rivers. Many of these states owe workers’ salaries and remain the poorest in the country.

“Several of the pension laws in these states include provisions for six cars every three years, a house in Lagos worth N750 million, and another in Abuja worth N1 billion, unrestricted access to medical attention, and pensionable cooks, stewards, and gardeners. 

“Other provisions include 100 per cent annual salaries of the incumbent governor, security operatives and police officers permanently assigned to former governors.”

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