Governor Nyeson Wike of Rivers State of Nigeria said some days ago that he was ready to die for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forth-coming 2019 general elections, as reported by one of the online newspapers in the country. I personally wondered whether that costly statement was borne out of his dire patriotism to the country via the political party and the desire to give the best to his people; or was the statement as a result of his undying political desperation to clinch to the office of the governor by all means later based on selfishness and political assertion. The pretence and politicking of most of these Nigerian governors is obviously getting very appalling.
Some state workers have not been paid for the past 21 (twenty-one) months, yet these defaulting governors did not even grieve about this, but have summoned enough temerity to meet with President Muhammed Buhari for another round of 50% bail-out of the repatriated Paris Funds for their 2018 budget.
While in service, they short-change workers, while out of service, they short-change the system, that is, the country and its entire citizenry.Recently, the Social Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) instituted a law suit against the federal government over its failure to stop the former governors and now serving Senators and Ministers from receiving double pay and life pensions and failure to seek recovery of over N40Billion of public funds received by these public officers.
SERAP had urged the Nigeria Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General of the federation, Justice Abubakar Malami to stop the former governors who are now serving senators and ministers from enjoying emoluments of drawing normal salaries and allowances in their positions as Senators and Ministers, and pensions as former Governors.
Double emoluments is contrary to Article 19 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to which Nigeria is a state party”The manner in which the terminal benefits and the attendant pensions system of the governors are structured is not only annoying and repugnant in nature but it has all the features of obvious stealing.
These ex-governors are more relaxed in this escapade because this stealing is given vent by the respective State Houses of Assembly, thereby giving a kind of legitimacy to this anomaly which cannot be tolerated in any sane clime.
To add to this ‘legitimacy’, the Nigerian Code of Conduct Bureau for Governors is not actually against Governors drawing double payments. But this is an abnormal situation definitely and deliberately crafted either by omission or commission to accommodate the greed of the Governors.
If the private sector law would not allow one to engage in an extra work for multiple incomes to ensure total commitment to the organization, then why should public servants of such calibre as Governors draw from the public coffers brazenly as double payments for their personal satisfaction?Sometime ago, States like Lagos and Edo among other states enacted outrageous laws giving special benefits accruable to their ex-governors and their deputies.
Some of these mouth-watering entitlements include two fully equipped, first-state-of-the-art Houses located in their choice places within Lagos and Abuja metropolis. The house in Lagos will be at the cost of N500Million and the one in Abuja at the cost of N700Million.
Six (6) new brand cars renewable every three (3), and furniture changed every two years, and an annual pension close to about N30 million pensions annually are also part of their entitlements.Though each state has their own pension laws for their ex-governors and the deputies, the laws are unequivocally appalling to the ordinary man no matter who made them. The greediness of these former State executives is underscored by the double emoluments they receive from their states and the federal coffers, as either serving Ministers or serving senators in the current political dispensation headed by President Muhamadu Buhari.
The former Governors serving as Senators include Senator Bukola Saraki (Kwara State, now the Senate President), Rabiu Kwakanso (Kano), Kabiru Gaya (Kano), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom). The former Governors who are Ministers in the present cabinet include Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Chris Ngige (Anambra), Babatunde Fasola (Lagos).
There are 21 former governors and their deputies serving as either senators or minister in the present Government.The attitude of these elites is not only irritating, but oppressive and humiliating to the ordinary Nigerian. I have witnessed some workers who had retired with cumulative paltry sum of N2 million after putting thirty-five rigorous years of meritorious service to the country.
By PENCOM law, a retiree with such a closing balance will first be entitled to a 25% lumpsum payment, and after which the remaining balance will be spread for him as his pensions either through programmed withdrawal or the purchase of premium by an annuity provider for the rest of his life.
Sometimes, these wretched-of-the-earth retirees get a monthly pittance of N2000 or at most N3000 per month. Consequently, he graduates from one level of poverty to the other until he sometimes slump and dies away in abject poverty. To further nail the Nigerian worker, some of them have not been paid their salaries for close to two years. Pensions owed them by the states are not paid in time until they retire and die in penury and the money becomes untraceable due to redtapism of the government.
On the other hand, the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) has so structured the poverty template that if a retiree has a balance of N550,000, he can given the entire balance en-bloc, but once it is more than that, such balance will be further bastardized by paying a quarter of such balance, and the rest spread as pensions. Such retiree victims collect a maximum of two or three thousand naira per month as their pensions.
Of what use is N2 million shared between lump sum of 25% and the rest spread for life?Some ex-governors in Nigeria have been indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the allegations of fraud, money laundering and ear-bursting corruption. They are milking the country blind. They are the enemies of this great country and chief saboteurs of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
They struggle to have a good legacy when in and out of their service to the state. I support in totality the call of SERAP to the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation to halt the receipt of double emoluments by these public officials whose consciences have been seared with hot iron. They don’t pay salaries when in office; and steal the country blind through pension benefits template when out of office. Nigeria is bleeding; Nigerians are dying! Stop this cheating and enduring evil!