BY AHURAKA ISAH, ABUJA
Lagos based lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) has called on former state governors who are serving ministers, senators and others presently receiving salaries from the federal government to emulate senate President, Bukola Saraki who directed Kwara state government to henceforth stop paying him pension and other forms of payments recently.
Saraki announced last week that he had stopped collecting pension as a former governor following the protest by the Socio-Economic and Accountability Project (SERAP). He disclosed that the moment he saw the allegation he wrote to the Kwara state government to stop the payment of his pension.
In a statement signed and made available to journalists yesterday, he Falana said, ‘’in like manner, three serving ministers in the Buhari administration namely ex-governors Kayode Fayemi, Babatunde Fasola and Chris Ngige have denied receiving pension from the Ekiti, Lagos and Ansmbrs state governments respectively.
“Other ministers who are former governors should speak out so that Nigerians can know the public officers who are receiving pension and salaries at the same time,” he said.
Falana added that presently, there are 20 other ex-governors and deputy governorswho are in the senate as well, that should own up or do the same thing like Saraki
“Apart from writing to the Kwara state government to stop further payment of the pension due to him Saraki decided to contribute to the debate when he said, “Morally, if you have got another job, you should give it up until when you are truly a pensioner. Some of these oversights are not addressing the issues. What the states should do is to go and amend their laws to say that if you have another appointment then you are not entitled to that benefit. With this, we will just simplify the matter.”
“Since Saraki has come to the conclusion that the collection of the pension is immoral he is advised to refund the pension he had collected from the Kwara state government since he became a Senator in June 2007. He should also relinquish the house bought for him in Abuja by the Kwara state government since he is said to receive housing allowance as President of the Senate.
“However, while Saraki is commended for demonstrating leadership by example with respect to the illegal collection of pension he should proceed to use his position as the President of the Senate to prevail on the 20 other Senators who are former governors and deputy-governors to stop further collecting pension from their state governments since they are currently paid jumbo salaries and allowances by the federal government,” he added.
‘’However, with respect to Saraki’s call on the houses of assembly of the states to amend the laws to stop the payment of pension to ex-governors who are receiving salaries from the federal government either as senators or ministers the issue of the amendment of the immoral law does not arise. In fact, the popular demand of the Nigerian people is that the scandalous pension laws be repealed in toto as there is no legal or moral basis to pay the salaries of a sitting governor to former governors and then provide them with vehicles and two houses, one in the state capital and another one in the federal capital territory.