Constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), has called on ex-governors to emulate the action taken by the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, who stopped his state, Kwara from paying him pension since he has taken another job as a senator.
Falana made the call in a statement made available to THISDAY and urged other ex-governors who are elected or appointed to positions to stop collecting pensions from their states.
“The Senate President, Dr. Bukola 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 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 Anambra 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,” the statement said.
Falana noted that 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.”’
The constitutional lawyer said: “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 collection of pension from their state governments since they are currently paid jumbo salaries and allowances by the federal government.”
However, in reaction to the call by Saraki’s to the states’ Houses of Assembly 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, Falana remarked that the issue of the amendment of the “ immoral” law does not arise.
He said 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.”