By Gboyega Akinsanmi
Former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, at the weekend disclosed that he never benefited from outrageous pension packages for former governors and their deputies in most states of the federation.
Osoba, a national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), equally disclosed that the only thing he â€œis receiving monthly from the Government of Ogun State since he left on May 28, 2003 is N676,000.â€
He revealed this at a session with journalists in his residence, Ikoyi, saying his monthly package â€œis consistent with the rules and regulations of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).â€
Across the federation, different state Houses of Assembly had enacted their own version of the Governor and Deputy Governor Pensions Laws, which award outrageous lifeÂ pensionsÂ for theÂ ex-governorsÂ of their states.
In the case of Akwa Ibom State, an ex-governor and spouse could not spend more than N100 million a year, and a former deputy and spouse a maximum of N30 million. Likewise, widows or widowers of former governors are entitled to N12 million a year, while deputy governors would get N6 million.
In Rivers State, a former governor is entitled to just one house anywhere in Nigeria and three new cars every four years. It equally provides for free medical care for the former governor and deputy and their families which cover both married and unmarried children.
While each state of the federation has its own version of the law with different benefits and privileges for its former governors and their deputies, over N37.367 billion has been allegedly paid to 47 former governors from 21 states in pension payments, provision of houses, staff, and vehicles replaceable between three and four years.Â
As a former governor, however, Osoba said he never received outrageous pension packages from the Government of Ogun State since he left office almost 15 years ago. Rather, according to him, â€œthe only thing I collect from Ogun State since I left office is N676,000 monthly.
During the administration of Governor Gbenga Daniel, Osoba disclosed that the state government did not pay his entitlement until some highly placed traditional rulers and other prominent people in the state intervened before he started paying some of his entitlements. Â
He said the N676,000 pension â€œdoes not even cover the cost of fuelling my car in a month. The tax that I pay to Ogun State yearly is in millions when you look at the balance sheet. I am putting more into the coffer of Ogun State than what I am taking from the state.
â€œI will only speak for myself. I cannot comment on others unless I have facts and figures indicating what they are collecting with what they are collecting in their various appointive or elective offices now. If I am holding any appointive office, I will rather collect all my entitlements because the N676,000 I am collecting from Ogun State cannot sustain me.â€
Contrary to what some critics said, Osoba said the RMAFC made provisions for changing cars of former governors and their deputies every three years
â€œIf the issue of car is covered under the law, it is their right and entitlement. Let us be honest with ourselves, in the 1999 Constitution, former presidents and governors are not by law allowed to hold any office with any multinational company or conglomerates.â€
Osoba, therefore, noted that he was not against the regular change of vehicles for ex-governors, explaining that lives of former governors â€œare endangered because we must have stepped on a lot of toes with the decisions that we took when we were in office.â€
Unlike the issue of changing cars, Osoba condemned ostentatious living, saying the government â€œcan change a car as recommended by the RMAFC, but not a fleet of cars. That is too much. Changing a car once in a while is not too much, though I have never benefited from this provision.â€
He disclosed that the only time the Government of Ogun State changed his car was when he turned 70 almost nine years ago, noting that the state government â€œhas not given me that privilege since the last 15 years.
â€œI do not mind because the way any governor lays his bed today is the way he will sleep on it tomorrow. If they leave office and ask for what they do not give to me, I will raise the alarm and fault them.
â€œLike my medical treatment. I know how much I have spent, but nobody asked me. A lot of prominent Nigerians have asked me to demand it. But I refused to make such demand. I do not want anything scandalous.
â€œFor example, I had major health challenges last year, which led to my travelling to the United Kingdom for medical treatment. Between May and December, I was in and out of different hospitals.
â€œBut I am happy that I had successful surgeries. I do not use recommended glasses anymore, which has been part of me for over 70 years. I paid Â£20,000 deposit in one of the hospitals and by January 1 this year, I paid the Â£10,000 balance for the treatment.
â€œThe total cost of my treatment was nearly Â£100,000 pounds, but I refused to put the burden on the neck of Ogun State. As a former governor my health is part of their problem and if I die today, the state will bury me.
â€œBut I just did not bother myself. Since the state government did not ask me about the medical procedure, when they knew what I went through, I did bother them with the details. What I cannot afford in my private life I would not go for it in any public office I find myself.â€