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‘Stop Wike, Umahi, Others From Collecting Life Pensions’ – SERAP Tells Tinubu, Threatens Legal Action

SERAP also urged Tinubu to instruct the former governors to return any pension and allowances that they may have collected since leaving office to the public treasury.

The former governors who are now ministers in Tinubu’s administration are: Nyesom Wike (former governor of River State and FCT Minister); David Umahi (former governor of Ebonyi State and Minister of Works); and Badaru Abubakar (former governor of Jigawa State and Minister of Defence).

Others include: Bello Matawalle (former governor of Zamfara State and Minister of State for Defence); Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola (former governor of Osun State and Minister of Transportation); Simon Bako Lalong (former governor of Plateau State and Minister of Labour and Employment); Atiku Bagudu (former governor of Kebbi State and Minister of Budget and Economic Planning); and Ibrahim Geidam (former governor of Yole State and Minister of Police of Affairs).

According to SERAP, the states currently implementing life pensions for former governors reportedly include Jigawa, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Yobe, and Rivers.

The organisation noted that many of these states owe workers’ salaries and remain the poorest in the country, adding that the pension laws in these states include provisions for six cars every three years, a house in Lagos worth N750 million, and another in Abuja worth N1 billion, unrestricted access to medical attention, and pensionable cooks, stewards, and gardeners.

In a letter dated 19 August 2023 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said that stopping the former governors from collecting life pensions would ensure that the country’s wealth and resources are used for the common good and benefit of the socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians rather than to satisfy the luxury lifestyle of a few politicians.

SERAP gave Tinubu seven days upon receipt of the letter to act or it would consider legal action to compel his government to comply with its request in the public interest.

The letter read in part: “If the ministers that the president appoints are those who collect life pensions rather than serve the public interest, then that may show little about the conduct and integrity of the ministers, but speak volumes about the exercise of presidential power of appointment.”

“Nigerians will judge you in part by the conduct, integrity and honesty of the ministers that you appoint to work in your government. Ultimately, the success of your government would depend on the conduct of the ministers that you appoint.”

“While many pensioners are not paid their pensions, former governors serving as ministers get paid huge severance benefits upon leaving office, and are poised to enjoy double emoluments on top of the opulence of political office holders.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

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