By Angela Atabo
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Federal Government to recover the more than N40 billion so far received by ex-governors currently serving as senators and ministers.
A statement by Executive Director, SERAP, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, on Sunday said the politicians were already enjoying pensions and other privileges and ought not to receive further emoluments from the Federal Government.
It said that it had dispatched a letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, to initiate steps toward the recovery of the funds.
“We urged Malami to urgently institute appropriate legal actions to challenge the legality of states’ laws permitting former governors currently serving as senators and ministers to enjoy serving governors’ emoluments as pensions.”
The organization expressed concern that many serving senators and ministers were receiving salaries and life pensions running into billions of naira from states that were currently unwilling or unable to pay workers’ salaries.
It said that double emolument and large severance benefits for former governors now serving public officials constituted a blatant betrayal of public trust.
It listed the beneficiaries as Dr Bukola Saraki (Kwara), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Kabiru Gaya (Kano), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Theodore Orji (Abia),Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), Sam Egwu (Ebonyi).
Also on the list are Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara), Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Jonah Jang (Plateau), Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara), Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Bukar Ibrahim (Yobe), Adamu Aliero (Kebbi) and George Akume (Benue).
Others are Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti), Enyinaya Abaribe (Abia), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Chris Ngige (Anambra) and Babatunde Fashola (Lagos).
“We are urging you to use your good offices as a defender of public interest, and exercise your powers under Section 174(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“This is for you to urgently institute appropriate legal actions to challenge the legality of states’ laws permitting former governors, who are now senators and ministers to enjoy governors’ emoluments while drawing normal salaries and allowances in their new political offices.
“SERAP is also asking you to seek full recovery of over N40bn of public funds that have so far been received from those involved.
“We want you to begin to take these steps within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.’’
The group said failure to do this would make SERAP to institute legal proceedings to compel the discharge of constitutional duty and full compliance with Nigeria’s international anticorruption obligations and commitments.
SERAP noted that under the Lagos Pension Law a former governor would enjoy the following benefits for life: Two houses, one in Lagos and another in Abuja estimated to cost between N500m and N700m.
It said they also enjoy six brand new cars, furniture allowance of 300 per cent of annual salary to be paid every two years, and a close to N2.5m monthly as pension (about N30m pension annually).
It said he was also entitled free medicals with his immediate families as well as house maintenance, car maintenance, entertainment and utility allowances inadditon to several domestic staff.
It said in Rivers, the law provided 100 per cent of annual basic salaries for ex-governor and deputy, one residential house for former governor anywhere of his choice and one residential house for the deputy.
It said three cars were given to the ex-governor every four years; two cars for the deputy, 300 per cent of annual basic salary for furniture; and 10 per cent of annual basic salary for house maintenance.
It said Akwa Ibom law provided N200m annual pay to ex governors, deputies; pension for life at a rate equivalent to the salary of the incumbent governor/deputy governor respectively.
It said a new official car and utility-vehicle , one personal aide and provision of adequate security; a cook, chauffeurs and security guards were provided for the governor.
Others benefits include free medical services for governor and spouse at an amount not exceeding N100m for the governor per annum and N50m for the deputy governor.
It said the law also gave a five-bedroom mansion and allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary for the deputy governor; 300 percent of annual basic salary and severance gratuity.
It said the Kano State Pension Rights of Governor and Deputy Governor provided for 100 percent of annual basic salaries for former governor and deputy as well as furnished and equipped office.
It said it also provided for a 6-bedroom house; well-furnished 4-bedroom for deputy, plus an office; free medical treatment for self and immediate families, two drivers; and a provision for a 30- day vacation within and outside Nigeria.
It said Gombe law gave N300 million executive pension benefits for the ex-governors while Kwara law gave a former governor two cars and a security car replaceable every three years.
The act also provided for a well-furnished 5-bedroom duplex, 300 per cent of his salary as furniture allowance and five personal staff.
The ex-governor and his deputy are also entitled to free medical care, 30 per cent of salary for car maintenance, 20 per cent for utility, 10 per cent for entertainment; 10 per cent for house maintenance.
SERAP said in Zamfara , former governors received pension for life, two personal staff, two vehicles replaceable, two drivers and free medical treatment for them and their immediate families in Nigeria or abroad.
Ex-governors in the state are also entitled to a 4-bedroom house in Zamfara, an office, free telephone and 30 days paid vacation outside Nigeria.
It said the Sokoto State law gave former governors and deputy governors N200 million and N180million respectively being monetisation for other entitlements which included domestic aides, residence and vehicles that could be renewed after every four years.(NAN)