A civil society organistion, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged all former governors in the ninth Senate to publicly commit to stop collecting pensions from their states while they serve as senators.
SERAP equally urged the former governors to return pensions already collected to the public treasury, and push for the abolition of double emoluments laws for former governors and deputies in their states.
Several of the 36 states have enacted pension-for-life laws for former governors and deputies. Among former governors in the ninth Senate that would enjoy such pensions are two ex-governors Abia State, Orji Kalu, and his successor, Theodore Orji; former Governor of Ebonyi State, Sam Egwu; former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha; former Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosu; and former Governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje.
SERAP in a statement yesterday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “As members of the ninth Senate resume Tuesday, there is a lot at stake. The leadership and members must now take meaningful steps to improve citizens’ trust and confidence in the Senate’s authority and ability to positively impact on their lives, by embracing the values of transparency, accountability, responsibility, solidarity and respect for human rights.”
The group added that Nigeria deserves a Senate that is fully committed to transparency, accountability, the rule of law, proper management of public resources, and human rights.
It noted that it was time for the leadership and members of the Senate to show the commitment and courage to end double pay for former governors among them.
The statement read in part: “Given the large number of former governors in the ninth Senate that would be receiving pensions, the Senate leadership and members should be the loudest voice urging action against pension for life laws across many states. Senators are already receiving several allowances, including ‘severance allowance’, ‘welcome package’, and at least N15 million monthly allowance as senators.
“Double pay and self-enrichment for ex-governors now senators have continued to contribute to ‘resource curse and the paradox of plenty’, with corrosive effect on governance and ultimately, respect for human rights, including the rights to quality education, adequate healthcare, clean water and regular electricity supply.
“Double pay for former governors and now senators will continue to have a negative impact on the ability of the Senate to exercise constitutional oversight over the use of public funds and limit avenues for public accountability.
“Payment of pensions to former governors in the Senate will continue to have an extremely negative effect on Nigeria’s development and the well-being of the population, particularly in the states with life pension laws. Life pension laws have depleted the public resources that would have been spent on the basic needs of Nigerians.
“The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan should also use his political position and influence to sponsor a resolution and prevail on senators to stop double pay for public office holders. Double pay for ex-governors amounts to misuse of public funds, as it diverts resources away from support for essential public services, invariably allowing politicians to maintain control over the political and economic resources of their states.”