By CHIKA IZUORA, Lagos
The Lagos State Governor has been asked to immediately Withhold his assent to the Bill by the Assembly proposing less than 50 per cent reduction of pensions to former governors of Nigeria’s richest State.
The Lagos State House of Assembly announced on Thursday that former Governors would now receive half of what the State used to give them as pension after leaving office. Part of the pension benefits include but not restricted to cash in millions of naira, a fleet of cars to be changed in every three years and houses to be built for them all at public expense.
The decision of the Lagos State Government to reduce the pension of former Governors by 50 per cent is a breach of the earlier public commitment and original Bill submitted to the Assembly by the State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu to entirely abolish the privilege, Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption rights group said. Sanwo-Olu earlier said that the State was going to stop the reckless and insensitive package.
In a statement at the weekend signed by the Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, said the reduction to 50 percent betrays the earlier public commitment of the state governor to abolish the practice and falls short of the remarkable revocation of similar laws by Kwara and Zamfara States.
“We are shocked by the hypocritical and selfish decision of the State House of Assembly to reduce the package for the former State Governors rather than approving the proposal as sent by the State’s executive. The truth of the matter is that, having served the state for between four to eight years, with their salaries and emoluments paid apart from a string of perks and privileges including unquestionable security votes, it is ridiculous that the public will continue to shoulder their personal needs after they have left the office” Suraju said.
HEDA said the former governors are not career workers like civil servants who often put in up to 35 years into public service. He said the 50 percent slash fails to address the fundamental issue which is that the former governors do not deserve to live on public funds after they have left to continue their mostly profit driven private businesses.
“The decision of the Lagos State House of Assembly is unilateral and even amounts to crying more than the bereaved. There were no consultations with the public. The elected members did not hold any discussion with the electorate. There was a kangaroo public hearing on the floor of the house. This is not a popular decision but a step taken to please their political godfathers” Suraju said.
He argued that payment to former Governors is a decision that has to be taken in consultation with the tax payers and not an imposition by 40 members of the State House of Assembly.
“The country is facing declining economic glory. Hunger and starvation are ravaging the land. It is ridiculous that what the elected officials are thinking of is the special economic protection for former governors” HEDA said. The anti-graft group said the attitude of the lawmakers is like pouring water in an ocean adding that the ex-governors are already more than comfortable and do not need pampering at public expense. He urged the Lagos State Government to concentrate on providing stimulus packages that can create more jobs and address the growing youth unemployment in the state which threatens the livelihood of millions of people in the State.
Under the new package the ex-governors will now receive three new cars to be changed every four years and huge financial supports. There were speculations that office of Speaker of the Assembly was also smuggled into the list of beneficiaries of the largesse.
HEDA Canvasses For Collaboration To Tackle Corrupt Practices(Opens in a new browser tab)