By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Gbenga Oke
LAGOS — President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), is to lead a campaign to repeal the pension laws for governors enacted by many states of the federation, Vanguard has learnt.
The proposal by the incoming president is based on what sources close to him affirm as the incongruity of the laws under the country’s socio-economic environment and also, as a way of demonstrating moral leadership from the top.
Majority of the nation’s 36 state Houses of Assembly have enacted generous pension entitlements for governors that in many cases provide 100 per cent pay for the incumbent governors buildings, generous medical allowances for them and their family members and annual holiday provisions, all of which are to last for life. Provisions in the pension allowances are also made for staff, security and vehicles that are renewable every three or four years.
Buhari’s inclination towards a review of the pension for former governors was first publicly declared few days to the presidential election at the All Progressives Congress, APC, retreat in Owerri, Imo State.
A source conversant with the development disclosed that Buhari told the governors that there was no way Nigeria could survive under the financial weight of the pensions that had been earmarked for governors. He was said to have described the pension laws as enacted by states controlled by APC and PDP governors as scandalous.
According to the source, “he was very blunt about it and said that it was something that was going to be done immediately, especially because it is not something that can be sustained.
“The feeling was that not only was it wrong and morally unconscionable, but that it was not something that should be encouraged, and he was appealing to them that it should be changed.”
However, the response of the governors, who were present at the retreat, was not immediately given.
It’s a welcome proposal —Keyamo
The development was, yesterday, welcomed by leading Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo, who described it as a fantastic proposal but disclosed that it was something that could, however, only be accomplished through moral suasion.
“Fantastic, fantastic. It is a very welcome proposal,” the Lagos lawyer, who backed General Buhari against President Goodluck Jonathan in last month’s presidential election said.
He, however, said the proposal was something that Buhari could only effect through moral suasion as the pension acts were enacted by state Houses of Assembly.
The crave for financial safety out of office was recently also extended to the legislature after the Lagos State House of Assembly passed pension laws to guarantee generous pension entitlements with proposals for former presiding officers of the house.
States that have passed the law
Many states of the federation had steadily been passing the law since return to civil rule. States like Lagos, Edo, Gombe, Oyo, and Rivers have passed the law, through which several former governors are already drawing applicable benefits, which in some cases are 100 per cent of what the incumbent is earning, while in others, some benefits in the pension laws are as high as 300 per cent of what obtains in some states.
100% of basic salary in Lagos
The Lagos State Governor and Deputy Governor Pensions Law of 2007 provides that “a former governor and family (spouse and children both married and unmarried) are entitled to free medical treatment which is not capped. Another highlight is that the ex-governor is entitled to a cook, steward, gardener and other domestic staff who are pensionable.
Annual Basic Salary: 100% of annual basic salaries of the incumbent governor and deputy.
Accommodation: One residential house in Lagos and another in FCT for the former governor; one residential house in Lagos for the deputy.
Transport: Three cars, two backup cars and one pilot car for the ex-governor every three years; two cars, two backup cars and one pilot car for the deputy governor every three years.
Furniture: 300 per cent of annual basic salary every two years.
House maintenance: 10 per cent of annual basic salary.
Domestic staff: Cook, steward, gardener and other domestic staff (no limit) who shall be pensionable.
Medical: Free medical treatment for ex-governor and deputy and members of their families (not just spouses).
Security: Two DSS operatives, one female officer, eight policemen (four each for house and personal security) for the ex-governor; one SSS operative and two policemen (one each for house and personal security) for the deputy. PA: 25% of annual basic salary.
Car maintenance: 30% of annual basic salary.
Entertainment: 10% of annual basic salary.
Utility: 20% of annual basic salary.
Drivers: Pensionable (no limit to number of drivers).
Severance gratuity: Not specified.
100% of basic salary in Kwara
The law stipulated that qualified former governors and their deputies be paid pension for life, without other perks like accommodation, cars, etc.
The law was reviewed in 2010 by Bukola Saraki, a former governor of the state and a serving senator, who with the support of the state House of Assembly imposed outrageous raises on all the benefits.
The 2010 law gives a former governor two cars and a security car, replaceable every three years. The governor is also entitled to a “well-furnished 5-bedroom duplex,” furniture allowance of 300 per cent of his salary (which totals over N6 million).
The law also gives the governor five personal staff paid for by the state, eight policemen, three DSS operatives (of which one must be a female), free medicals for the governor and the deputy.
Other entitlements are 30 per cent of salary for car maintenance, 20 per cent for utility, 10 per cent for entertainment, 10 per cent for house maintenance.
100% of basic salary in Rivers
The Rivers pension law was first approved in 2003 by former governor, Peter Odili, having been passed by a state assembly headed by the present governor, Chibuike Amaechi as speaker.
The 2003 pension law provides pension for life for governors and deputies, defining “pension” as embodying annual terminal basic salary, annual transport allowance, annual rent subsidy, annual utility allowance, entertainment allowance, domestic staff of not more than four.
Like Lagos, the new law gives the former governor a house in Rivers State and anywhere in Nigeria. The former governor is also entitled to pension for life at the rate of the governor’s basic salary, 300 per cent of salary for furniture paid every four years, three cars every four years, free medical and 10 per cent for house maintenance.
The law gives the former governor a security detail comprising two DSS operatives, four police officers, 30 per cent for car maintenance, 10 per cent entertainment, 20 per cent utility and several domestic staff.
100% of basic salary in Edo
The Edo State House of Assembly on May 16, 2007 passed a law entitled ‘Provision for the Pension of Rights of the Governor and Deputy Governor of the state.’
This law was passed few weeks before Governor Lucky Igbinedion left office as Governor of Edo State.
It provides for 100 per cent pension for the governor at a rate similar to the salary of the incumbent office holder and for domestic staff among others for the former governor.
300% of annual salary in Oyo
The Oyo State Pension Law 2004 provides that the Governor and Deputy Governor after leaving office shall be entitled to Pension for life at a rate equivalent to the annual salary of the incumbent Governor or Deputy Governor. Furniture Allowance of 300 per cent of the annual basic salary, Leave Allowance of 10 per cent of annual basic salary and severance allowance of 300 per cent of the annual basic salary.