Governors’ Pensions Act: Repeal of Privileges by the Lagos Assembly on Lagos Street | The Guardian Nigeria News
When Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced during the presentation of the 2021 budget estimates that he would seek to repeal the Public Office Holders (Pensions) Act, which has controversial, it was applauded on all levels. Even the former state governors who benefited from the law welcomed the move.
Speaking to lawmakers during the budget presentation, Sanwo-Olu said his administration had concluded plans to repeal the Public Office Holders Pension Payment Act, which mandates a pension for former governors and vice-governors. of State.
Ten months after the governor’s announcement, lawmakers took action. But unlike the repeal, which the governor had proposed, they only reduced benefits by 50 percent.
Commenting on the decision, Babatunde Fashola, who praised the gesture, said: “When this was raised at our meeting of the State Executive Council, I made it clear that while it is a privilege for me conferred, I have the right to refuse and I refused and insisted that the cabinet meeting record my refusal to participate.
Another former governor, Bola Tinubu, not only backed Sanwo-Olu in action, he described it as a bold move, encouraging all All Progressives Congress (APC) loyalists to follow suit.
Nigerians have so far been outraged that after serving no more than eight years in office, most of Nigeria’s governors and vice-governors are stepping down to enjoy lifelong pensions. In some states, the presidents of the houses of assembly and their deputies are even included in the flat rate.
Yet some stakeholders continued to oppose the lifetime pension for public office holders, especially with declining incomes and growing development challenges.
At the forefront of the call for the abolition of pensions for governors and their deputies is the Socio-Economic Rights and Responsibility Project (SERAP). SERAP had gone to court to ask what each of the governors received as a pension, saying that what they received as a pension was high.
Those who oppose the retirements of governors and their deputies argue that it eats away at state finances, thus preventing state governments from executing development projects.
In addition to pensions, some of the former state officials are said to receive double emoluments, as they would also serve the state or federal government in other functions after their tenure, where they also receive salaries.
For example, currently 16 former governors sit in the Senate. In addition, nine former governors and vice-governors are currently ministers in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, including a former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola.
So when Imo State Governor Hope Uzodima in May 2020 abolished the pensions of former governors and presidents of the State Assembly House, the development was applauded. This was all the more true as many states struggled with the payment of workers’ wages in a context of declining incomes. The coronavirus pandemic has even made matters worse. As such, some Nigerians have suggested that other states that have yet to abolish the pension law for former governors and lecturers should emulate Imo and Zamfara states.
Like many states, Lagos State is grappling with financial burdens, which is why it had to revise its 2020 budget down 21%, especially with its expected revenue down 24%.
Giving the proposed breakdown of the revised budget, State Economic Planning and Budget Commissioner Sam Egube said the total budget size had been reduced by 21% from N1, 168.562b to N920.469b , with the funding gap increasing slightly to 11 percent. cent from N97.533b to N108.005b; recurrent expenditure (debt and non-debt) decreasing by 10 percent from the original N457.529b to N411.608b, while total capital expenditure decreased by 28 percent from N711.33b to N508.861b. The revised total income, according to the commissioner, represents a drop of 24% from the expected N1 of 107,029b to N812,464b. Hence the need for the Lagos State government to reduce some unnecessary spending.
In Lagos, section 2 of the Lagos State Public Office Holder (Pension Payment) Act 2007 approved one dwelling house each for the governor and deputy governor to n ‘ any location of their choice in Lagos State and a dwelling house in the Capital Territory for the Governor on two consecutive terms.
The law also awarded six new cars every three years for the governor. This is in addition to a driver and two spare cars, while the Deputy Governor gets two cars in addition to a driver and a spare car every three years. A former governor must also receive 100 percent of the current governor’s base salary (7.7 million naira per year), as well as free health care for himself and his family members. The law also stipulates that former governors will be entitled to a furniture allowance, which corresponds to 300 percent of their annual base salary (N23.3 million); household maintenance allowance, which is 10 percent of basic salary (N778, 296); utility allowance, which is 20 percent of salary (N1.5m); and car maintenance allowance, which is 30 percent of annual base salary (N2.3m). Other benefits include the entertainment allowance, which is 10 percent of base salary (N778, 296) and a personal assistant, who will earn 25 percent of the governor’s annual base salary (N1.9m). A former governor will also be entitled to eight police officers and two state service department officials for life, under Lagos law.
The former deputy governor is expected to receive 100% of the current deputy governor’s base salary, as well as free health care for himself and his family members. The law also stipulates that former vice-governors will be entitled to a furniture allowance, which corresponds to 300 percent of their annual base salary; housekeeping allowance, which is 10 percent of basic salary; the public service allowance, which is 20 per cent of the salary; and the car maintenance allowance, which is 30 per cent of the annual base salary. Other benefits include an entertainment allowance, which represents 10 percent of base salary and a personal assistant, who will earn 25 percent of the governor’s annual base salary. A former deputy governor will also be entitled to eight police officers and two State Service Department (DSS) officials for life.
But months after receiving the bill from the executive, the Lagos State House of Assembly on August 6 amended the state pensions law, reducing their benefits and emoluments by 50%. .
The House approved the recommendations following the presentation of the report of the Chairman of the House Committee on Settlement, Training and Pensions, Yinka Ogundimu, in plenary.
Ogundimu, representing Agege II, said the committee had reduced their benefits and other emoluments by 50 percent, based on the state’s current economic situation.
The lawmaker added that he had removed the provision of houses in Abuja and Lagos for former governors, as stipulated in an earlier state-enforced law, saying that the committee’s report presented to the House further showed a reduction the number of vehicles made available to former governors and their deputies.
President Mudashiru Obasa, however, suggested that the former governors should get two vehicles, a car and a van, instead of the three recommended by the committee.
The president of the Center for Combating Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), Debo Adeniran, said that the continued implementation of the public office holder (Pension Payment Act 2007) and other laws of this type who gave a legal basis to the retirement payment to the former governors and their deputies in the various states of the country were not only insensitive, but insensitive and devoid of human sensitivity.
He noted that the beneficiaries of this pension already had everything they benefited from in office paid by the taxpayers during the four or eight years in office. He added that they were wealthy enough to support themselves.
“Many are retirees who receive pensions and other benefits. It is unfair that those who claim to serve people look to the exploiters of the same people who suffer in varying degrees of deprivation, sometimes due to their mismanagement. Sometimes, when they serve twice or MPs become governors, they reap the benefits in several times.
“Meanwhile, some of those who have served for over 30 years in various ministries and parastatals cannot access their bonuses and pensions years after serving. Although we congratulate the Lagos State House of Assembly for this bold step, having demonstrated that governance cannot be carried out effectively without prudent fiscal responsibility, we nonetheless recommend a further reduction in the pension paid to these elders. governors and their deputies. We hope that other states in the country will take inspiration from this noble act of the Lagos State House of Assembly and amend or repeal all anti-people, anti-development and anti-progress laws in their various States. “
For his part, ActionAid Nigeria’s head of social mobilization, Adewale Adeduntan, said the 50 percent reduction in benefits and fees is not impressive, given that other states have abolished the policy altogether. .
“It is appalling that the odious law has not been completely abolished by the House of Assembly despite the scarcity of resources and the growing debt profile of the state in a context of high cost of governance. Complete abolition could have freed more resources for gender-sensitive public services.
“Lagos needs more infrastructure such as schools, general hospitals, high-tech libraries, modern markets, feeder roads, flood drains and many more, including huge investments for ensure optimal security. Indeed, the population is growing exponentially and every available kobo must be used wisely to improve the lot of the masses.
“The public service is never about the leaders but the citizens who elected them to keep their mandates with confidence. Those good things in life that elected leaders want should be their top priorities for the electorate. Governments must be seen as being deliberate in terms of investing in people and not in over-pampered political office holders. The well-being of citizens must be the pinnacle, ”said Adeduntan.
When Governor Sanwo-olu’s chief press secretary, Gboyega Akosile, was contacted for answers on the new development of the pension law, given that it was a huge deviation from to what the governor’s repeal had promised earlier, he read but did not respond to the message sent to him via Whatsapp. With the various backlashes that have since followed the reduction rather than a complete repeal by lawmakers, it remains to be seen whether Governor Sanwo-Olu would sign the bill.