THE Lagos State House of Assembly and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu should agree to abolish the highly unpopular life pension for ex-governors and their deputies contained in the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law, of Lagos State signed by former governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 2007.
According to that legislation, governors and their deputies who complete their two terms are entitled to a house in any location of their choice in Lagos and Abuja, as well as six new cars every three years, 100 per cent of the salary of the serving governor, free healthcare for them and their family members, furniture allowance, fully-paid vacations, medical insurance, among other pampering till death.
Since Lagos blazed this odious trail, other states such as Rivers, Gombe, Enugu, Kwara, Sokoto, Akwa Ibom, Zamfara, and Yobe have joined the train. A Vanguard special report published on December 7, 2019, revealed that 21 states spent N37.367 billion in servicing 47 ex-governors and their deputies between 2015 and 2019. Four states – Bauchi, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Lagos topped the big spenders list.
The governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, was the first to dump the scheme in 2019. Lagos State’s Sanwo-Olu also signalled his intention to do the same, but the State Assembly could only reduce the pensions for its ex-governors and deputies to 50 per cent, while expunging the provision of houses as stipulated in the law. The Lagos legislators could not do better than this due to reasons best known to them.
We once again call for outright abolition of the self-serving pension laws across the country because, as seen above, it is a serious drain on the public resources of the various states where the laws are in place.
A state like Lagos may seem very rich in internal revenue, but the quantum of infrastructural deficits and poor social service delivery do not portray Lagos as a state overflowing with milk and honey as such. Apart from that, it is immoral for a person to be bequeathed with such retirement package to insulate them from fallouts of their poor service delivery while office. Many civil servants and pensioners are being owed months, sometimes even years, in salaries in some of the states implementing the pension law. There is absolutely no justification for its continuation.
The Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission, RMFAC, has already made adequate credible provisions for the benefit of ex-governors and their deputies. That is more than enough. Public office is for service, not for personal aggrandisement. We must learn to practise our democracy in the best traditions of the cultures from which we copied it. Whoever finishes serving should go back to what he or she was doing before public office.