The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to stop former Governors appointed in his cabinet from earning life pensions from their respective states.
Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP’s Deputy Director, in a letter dated August 19 and addressed to the President, said the Nigerian 1999 constitution and the country’s international legal obligations forbids “the appointment of former governors who collect life pensions while serving as ministers.”
According to the Deputy Director, it would be “double emoluments” for the ministers earning pensions, noting that Tinubu must halt the process.
Recall that Tinubu announced the appointment of 43 ministers with their respective portfolios, of which eight members of the cabinet are immediate past Governors.
They include Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Simon Lalong, (Plateau), Atiku Bagudu, (Kebbi) and Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe).
SERAP pointed that “the states currently implementing life pensions for former governors reportedly include Jigawa, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Yobe, and Rivers.
“You would be acting in the public interest by stopping former governors now serving as ministers in your government from collecting life pensions, especially given the current grave economic realities in the country.”
“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 seven 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.
“The exercise of your power of appointment ought to reflect ethical and constitutional safeguards and requirements, and the fundamental principles of integrity and honesty,” Oluwadare added.