• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Ex-governors’ jumbo pension package crippling states’ economies

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While thousands of retired civil servants across Nigeria who laboured for their states for 35 years wallow in abject penury and die without getting their pensions and other entitlements, and while many serving civil servants go without pay for upwards of 10 months, former state governors (since 1999) who spent maximum of eight years in office are swimming in millions of taxpayers’ naira carted away monthly in form of pensions, leaving most of the states’ coffers empty.

BDSUNDAY finding shows that even former governors who are now in public service are not exempted from these humongous pension allowances. For some of them, it’s double portion: they collect all the emoluments due to them in their new offices while still receiving huge sums as pension allowances from their state governments, some of which are unable to pay workers’ salaries for several months running.
This is even as most state governments across the country have bluntly refused to adopt and implement the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), as captured in the Pension Reform Act 2004 and updated in the Pension Reform Act 2014, which is meant to provide a soft landing for retirees while also relieving the states of the burden of having to pay pensions to retired civil servants from the treasury.
Our investigation shows that the annual pension allowances of ex-governors, excluding other humongous allowances, vary from state to state and range from N5.5 million to as high as N300 million depending on how rich the state is, the number of ex-governors, and the audacity of a sitting governor to influence the state legislature to enact pension laws that protect his/her interest after office. In-between these two extremes are other no less mind-blowing figures as N6.6 million, N8.8 million, N30 million and N200 million.
For instance, in the twilight of his eight-year tenure as governor of oil-rich Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio in 2014 signed a law that provides N200 million as annual disbursement to former governors and a pension for life at a rate equivalent to the salary of the incumbent governor. The law also provides for free medical services for each ex-governor and spouse at an amount not exceeding N100 million per annum, a new official car and a utility vehicle every four years, one personal aide, a cook, chauffeurs and security guards at a sum not exceeding N5 million per month and N2.5 million.
Similarly in 2007, as governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, now the leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), also signed a pension law that grants benefits for life for former governors of the state. These include two houses (one in Lagos and another in Abuja), six brand new cars replaceable every three years, furniture allowance of 300 percent of annual salary to be paid every two years, and a reported N2.5 million as monthly pension pay.
In Rivers State, the pension law provides 100 percent of annual basic salaries for ex-governors. Kano State Pension Rights Law 2007 provides for 100 percent of annual basic salaries. Kwara State 2010 Pension Law gives a former governor 300 percent of his salary. In Sokoto State, ex-governors receive N200 million monetisation for other entitlements which include domestic aides, residence and vehicles that could be renewed after every four years.
In Edo State, bill for a law to provide for the pension rights of the governor and the deputy governor was passed by members of the state House of Assembly on May 9, 2007. The law was passed few weeks to the expiration of the Lucky Igbinedion administration, and it is only for the benefit of those who were elected to hold office as civilian governors of the state, provided they were not removed from office by impeachment.
The law empowers the governor and his deputy to earn pension for life at a rate equivalent to 100 percent of their last annual salary, and the pension would be charged on consolidated fund.
Other benefits to be enjoyed by former governors and their deputies include an officer not above salary grade level 12 as special assistant, a personal secretary not below grade level 10 who shall be selected by the former governor from the public service of Edo State, two cooks, and two armed policemen for security.
Former governors are also to have three vehicles to be bought by the state government and liable to be replaced every five years, three drivers who shall be selected by the former governor and paid by the state government, and free medical treatment for the governor and his immediate family.
For former deputy governors, they shall be entitled to pension for life at a rate equivalent to 100 percent of their last annual salary, an officer not above salary grade level 12 as special assistant, personal secretary not below grade level 09 who shall be selected by the former deputy governor from the public service of the state, a cook, and two armed policemen for security.
They are also entitled to two vehicles to be bought by the state government and liable to be replaced every five years, two drivers who shall be selected by the former deputy governor and paid by the state government, and free medical treatment for the deputy governors and their immediate families.
The governor and the deputy are also entitled to 300 percent severance gratuity of their basic salary, even though the amount paid to the governors and deputies so far are not made public.
Investigation also shows that Plateau State has a pension law that supports the payment of N600,000 to its ex-governor as monthly take-home; Gombe State has a law supporting the provision of N300 million as pension benefits for the ex-governors.
Our enquiries in Bayelsa State show that there is no legislation legitimizing payment of huge pension allowances to former governors of the state, but an impeccable source confided in BDSUNDAY that former Governor Timipre Sylva paid certain monthly allowances to former governors of the state.
Although our source did not specify the amount, he, however, disclosed that Sylva paid such allowances to former military governors Caleb Olubolade and Edoor Obi as well as Diete Alfred-Spiff, who was military governor of the old Rivers State, and former civilian governors, late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and Goodluck Jonathan.
Our source also said that incumbent Governor Henry Seriake Dickson has refused to pay Sylva such monies but could not state if others were receiving the monthly payments from the state government.

BDSUNDAY could not, however, establish whether all the states were paying pension to former governors and how much each state was paying. Many of our sources were reluctant to speak for fear of victimisation. However, our finding shows that like the obnoxious monthly security vote for serving governors, which is mired in opacity, the matter of outrageous pensions appears to be a common interest that all ex-governors, irrespective of their political party affiliation, labour to protect.
Nigerians react
Many Nigerians who spoke to BDSUNDAY say this jumbo pension to former governors is the reason many states are in financial crisis of immense proportions, with a good number of them unable to pay workers and pensioners and meet other obligations. For instance, while Akwa Ibom State government now receives N5.6 billion as its statutory monthly allocation, it requires N6.5 billion to meet the wage bill of workers in the state.
While analysts agree that the current economic recession has its roots in the way governors across many states of the federation conducted economic activities in their various states in the past years, they are worried that continued payment of huge amounts of pension to ex-governors, most of who stole their states’ treasuries dry, is not only sinful, immoral and insensitive but also unwarranted, especially at a time like this when the economy is in coma.
Tijah Bolton, head of Policy Alert, a non-governmental organisation working to promote economic and environmental justice in the Niger Delta region, who describes the jumbo pension scheme by former governors as criminal, says those in power have always found ways to gratify themselves at the expense of the people, adding that it is a double pay for most of the governors who are now senators receiving remunerations from the same system.
“It is taken as a first line charge! Yet we’re crying that we are unable to fund capital projects and unable to pay salaries and pensions of the workers,” he says.
Bolton contends that it will be difficult to talk about recession without putting the blame at the doorsteps of governors as well.

“We cannot talk about recession without blaming the governors. The states and local government areas receive about 48 percent of all federally allocated revenues, so the way they managed all those resources has a bearing on where we are now,” he says.
Bolton is also of the view that the recession should be an opportunity for all tiers of government, but especially states and LGAs, to increase fiscal prudence and start putting the people’s money where the people’s issues are, reduce cost of governance, unnecessary aides, etc, and invest more in diversification, especially in agriculture.
For Sammy Etuk, a legal practitioner, the pension scheme is a huge fraud. He adds, however, that though it has taken a huge toll on the resources of the states, it can hardly be solely responsible for the current financial crisis.
“The truth is the present government lacks good economic policies to address the global economic downturn and it lacks capable hands to navigate the country out of this musky,” he said.
Kingsley Abavo, a journalist, described the payment of pensions to governors and their deputies as abnormal, noting that they are not civil servants.
“The payment of pension to former governors and deputies is not right because they are not civil servants. They are public officers and their service was subject to a particular period of between four and eight years. For me that it is not enough for a pension to be paid to them, especially when compared to civil servants who have spent all their years from their youthful period to old age serving the public,” Abavo said.
“I don’t see any reason why the governors and deputies should be given pension. Otherwise, I see it as a selfish provision to waste public funds on them, another way of ripping the public off their commonwealth after having acquired so much for themselves. It should be discouraged,” he stated.
Tony Abolo, a media consultant, said years of experience with governors and deputies in the country had been laced with stealing.
Abolo also supported the call by the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, for the scrapping of security votes for governors, noting that security votes are the bedrock of corruption in the nation’s politics.
“You cannot give pension to people who stole the people blind, engaged in contracts and at the same time benefitted from the contracts which they conceived, designed, awarded and executed along with their friends, collected kick-back, and collected the payment. In all honesty, they deserve nothing but to go home having now stolen the people blind,” he said.
State govts in breach of Pension Reform Act
Meanwhile, the first quarter review report by the Nigerian Pension Commission (PenCom) released in March 2016 shows that 24 out of the 36 states of the federation, in total violation of the Pension Reform Act 2014, have failed to implement Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and Group Life Insurance for civil servants in their states.
A breakdown of the level of implementation of the CPS by the state governments shows that apart from Lagos, Niger, Osun and Rivers States which have complied fully with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2014 through remittance of contribution, funding of Accrued Rights (Retirement Benefit Bond Redemption Fund Accounts) and implementation of Group Life Insurance, all other states are in default.
Ogun, Anambra, Delta and Kaduna States have partially complied; the four states have commenced remittance of pension contribution, are funding RBBRFAs, but have failed to implement Group Life Insurance. Zamfara State has commenced remittance of contribution, but is neither funding RBBRFAs nor implementing Group Life Insurance.
Imo is yet to commence remittance of pension contributions, but the Imo State University is currently implementing the CPS under the auspices of the PRA 2014. The state government is neither funding RBBRFAs nor implementing Group Life Insurance. Jigawa State’s assets have been transferred to six PFAs for management N/A N/A, while Kano’s assets are yet to be transferred N/A N/A.
Apart from these, the rest of the states are in total default. Abia, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe have yet to commence remittance of contribution, are not funding RBBRFAs, and are not implementing Group Life Insurance.
Former governors currently holding public office
Some former governors who currently hold public office include Chris Ngige (Anambra), a one-time senator and currently minister of labour and productivity; Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), minister of solid minerals; Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), minister of transport; Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), minister of power, works and housing, and Ayo Fayose, who ruled Ekiti State between May 29, 2003 and October 16, 2006 and was elected governor a second time in October 2014.
Others are Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Theodore Orji (Abia), Bukola Saraki (Kwara), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Kabiru Gaya (Kano), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara), Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Jonah Jang (Plateau), Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko (Sokoto), Ahmed Sani Yarima (Zamfara), Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe), Adamu Aliero (Kebbi), George Akume (Benue), and Isiaka Adeleke (Osun), all of which are now senators.
Ex-governors currently not in public service
Living ex-governors who are currently not in public service include Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007); Boni Haruna (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007), Murtala Nyako (May 29, 2007 to February 26, 2008; April 29, 2008 to July 15, 2014), James Shaibu Barka (acting, February 26, 2008 to April 29, 2008), Ahmadu Umaru Fintirin (acting, July 15, 2014 to October 1, 2014), and Bala James Ngilari (October 1, 2014 to May 29, 2015), all of Adamawa State; Obong Victor Attah of Akwa Ibom State (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007); Chinwoke Mbadinuju (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003), Peter Obi (March 17, 2006 to November 3, 2006; February 9, 2007 to March 17, 2014), Virginia Etiaba (November 3, 2006 to February 9, 2007), all of Anambra State. Etiaba became governor when Peter Obi was impeached by the state legislature for alleged gross misconduct. She transferred powers back to Obi three months later when an appeal court nullified the impeachment. Emmanuel Nnamdi Uba spent barely two weeks in office. He was sworn in as governor of Anambra State on May 27, 2007 but was removed by a Supreme Court decision on June 14, 2007.
Others are Adamu Mu’azu (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Isa Yuguda (May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015), both of Bauchi State; Goodluck Jonathan (December 29, 2005 to May 2007), Timipre Sylva (May 29, 2007 to April 16, 2008; May 27, 2008 to January 27, 2012), Werinipre Seibarugo (acting, April 16, 2008 to May 27, 2008), Nestor Binabo (acting, January 27, 2012 to February 14, 2012), all of Bayelsa State; Gabriel Suswam of Benue State (May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015); Mala Kachalla (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003) and Ali Modu Sheriff (May 29, 2003 to May 29, 2011), both of Borno State; Donald Duke (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Liyel Imoke (May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015), both of Cross River State; James Ibori (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Emmanuel Uduaghan (May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015), both of Delta State; Martin Elechi of Ebonyi State (May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015); Lucky Igbinedion (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Oserheimen Osunbor (May 29, 2007 to November 29, 2008), both of Edo State; Niyi Adebayo (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003), Tope Ademiluyi (acting, April 27, 2007 to May 29, 2007), Segun Oni (May 29, 2007 to October 15, 2010), and Kayode Fayemi (October 15, 2010 to October 15, 2014), all of Ekiti State.
Enugu State has Chimaroke Nnamani (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Sullivan Chime (May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015); Gombe State has Abubakar Habu Hashidu (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003) and Mohammed Danjuma Goje (May 29, 2003 to May 29, 2011); Imo State has Achike Udenwa (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Ikedi Ohakim (May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2011); Jigawa State has Ibrahim Saminu Turaki (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Sule Lamido (May 29, 2007 to May 29,  2015); Kaduna State has Ahmed Makarfi (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007), Namadi Sambo, former vice president (May 29, 2007 to May 19, 2010), and Mukhtar Ramalan Yero (December 15, 2012 to May 19, 2015); Kano State has Ibrahim Shekarau (May 29, 2003 to May 29, 2011); Katsina State has Ibrahim Shema (May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015); Kebbi State has Adamu Aliero (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007), Usman Saidu Nasamu Dakingari (May 29, 2007 to February 24, 2012), and Aminu Musa Habib Jega (acting governor from February 24, 2012); Kogi State has Ibrahim Idris (May 29, 2003 to February 6, 2008; March 29, 2008 to January 2011), Clarence Olafemi (February 6, 2008 to March 29, 2008), and Idris Wada (January 2012 to February 16, 2016); Lagos State has Bola Tinubu (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007); Nasarawa State has Abdullahi Adamu (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Aliyu Doma (May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2011); and Niger State has Abdulkadir Kure (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015).

Other are Ogun State with Olusegun Osoba (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003), and Gbenga Daniel (May 29, 2003 to May 29, 2011); Osun State has Adebisi Akande (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003) and Olagunsoye Oyinlola (May 29, 2003 to November 29, 2010); Oyo State has Lam Adesina (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003), Rashidi Ladoja (May 29, 2003 to May 29, 2007), and Christopher Alao-Akala (January 2006 to December 7, 2006; May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2011); Plateau State has Chris Alli (interim administrator, May 18, 2004 to November 18, 2004) and Michael Botmang (November 2006 to April 2007); Rivers State has Peter Odili (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Celestine Omehia (May 29, 2007 to October 26, 2007); Sokoto State has Attahiru Bafarawa (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Abdullahi Balarabe Salame (acting, April 11, 2008 to May 28, 2008); Taraba State has Jolly Nyame (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007), Danbaba Suntai (May 29, 2007 to October 2012), Garba Umar (acting, October 2012 to 2013), and Sani Danladi (acting, 2013 to May 2015); Yobe State has Bukar Abba Ibrahim (May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2007) and Mamman Bello Ali (May 29, 2007 to January 27), while Zamfara State has Mahmud Shinkafi (May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2011)