18 States paying outgoing governors jumbo pensions owe N3 trillion debt
No fewer than 18 outgoing state governors will retire into lives of luxury with generous pension benefits despite mounting debts and unpaid workers’ salaries.
The PUNCH investigations showed that the governors, who will hand over to their successors on May 29, 2023, would be leaving behind at least N3.
According to data from the Debt Management Office, the debt figure of these states included N2.27tn domestic loans and $1.71bn foreign borrowing.
The foreign debt is about N787.51bn, using the exchange rate of the Central Bank of Nigeria, which was N460.53 per dollar as of May 14, 2023).
The debt figure was as of December 2022, which was the latest figure by the DMO.
The outgoing governors include Nyesom Wike (Rivers State), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom State), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano State), Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa State), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara State), Ben Ayade (Cross River State), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia State),and David Umahi (Ebonyi State).
Such perks include one duplex in any city of their choice within Nigeria, one sport utility vehicle and a backup car replaceable every two years, an office with four aides, two security personnel and monthly salaries, among others. Each of the four domestic workers will earn N100,000 monthly.
Akwa Ibom, which had N219.27bn domestic debt and $44.85m foreign debt, reportedly spends an average of N267.78m yearly on ex-governors and their deputies and Governor Emmanuel and his deputy are expected to enjoy the same as the state’s Pension Act, 2014 provides.
They are also entitled to the replacement of official and utility vehicles every four years.
Kano had N122.36bn and $100.67m foreign debt. However, Ganduje and his deputy are entitled to 100 per cent of their basic salaries, a six-bedroom house and free medical treatment for themselves and members of their families upon handover on May 29, 2023.
The law guiding pension rights for former governors and deputy governors also states that they will get well-equipped offices.
The Jigawa State ‘Former Public Officers Pension and other Benefits Law No. 15 of 2015’ stipulates that a governor who successfully completes his term without impeachment will be entitled to a monthly pension equivalent to the current salary of the current governor, two brand new vehicles to be provided by the state government and to be replaced after every four year, six-bedroom fully furnished house, two personal assistants not below grade level 10, two drivers selected by the governor and to be paid by the state, a fully furnished office in any location of choice and fully paid medical treatment within Nigeria and abroad.
The deputy governor is also to get a monthly pension equivalent to the incumbent’s salary, one assistant not below level eight, one brand new vehicle, a four-bedroom flat and an office in a location of his choice.
However, the state had N43.95bn domestic debt and $26.99m foreign debt.
Matawalle lost his re-election bid and will complete his four-year tenure on May 28, 2023, leaving N112.2bn domestic debt and $28.86m foreign debt.
The ‘Grant of Pension to Governor or Deputy Governor (Amendment Law), 2006’ made provisions for pension and other benefits to former governors. It provided a pension for life equivalent to the salary of the incumbent, two personal staff members, two vehicles replaceable every four years, two drivers, and free medical for former governors, their deputies and their immediate family members in Nigeria or abroad.
It stipulated N7m monthly for former governors and N2m to former deputy governors, but former governor Abdul-aziz Yari reviewed it to N10m and N5m monthly, respectively. However, the law was repealed by the state House of Assembly on November 26, 2019.
Also, findings revealed that the outgoing governor, Bello Matawalle, owes workers two months’ salaries. Matawalle of the APC has been urged by the NLC and the TUC in the state to settle all outstanding salaries before handing over to Dauda Lawal of the PDP.
Despite having N90.6bn domestic debt and $36.56m foreign debt, Tambuwal is expected to inherit the Sokoto State Pension Law, which makes provision for N200m every four years for former governors, while his deputy is entitled to perks amounting to N180m, being monetisation for other entitlements, including domestic aides, residences and vehicles that can be renewed after every four years.
Section 2 (2) of the Sokoto State Grant of Pension (Governor and Deputy Governor) Law, 2013 states, “The total annual pension to be paid to the governor and deputy governor shall be at a rate equivalent to the annual total salary of the incumbent governor or deputy governor of the state, respectively.”
In Plateau State, the incoming governor, Caleb Muftwang of the PDP, will be forced to settle outstanding salaries owed by his predecessor, Simon Lalong of the APC. The state is currently on shutdown due to the indefinite strike declared by the NLC and the Trade Union Congress.
In Taraba State, almost all categories of workers are being owed. From lecturers in the state-owned university to teachers. The Taraba State NLC, during the 2023 Labour Day celebration, urged the governor to settle the six months’ salaries of local government employees and five months for primary school teachers before handing over to the incoming administration.
In Cross River State, the incoming governor, Bassey Otu, will face angry environmental workers in the state. Recently, the environmental workers protested the failure of the government to pay their four months’ salaries.
The National Vice-President of the TUC, Tommy Etim, called on all the affected governors to clear “their tables” and pay all outstanding salaries before handing over to their successors.
Etim, who is also the National President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants said, “As they are leaving, they should clear their tables and pay all outstanding salaries. These governors need to know that salary is a right and not a privilege. Failure to pay will also be a huge burden on the incoming administrations.
“Also, the governors have all set up transition committees; they must include what they owe in their handover notes. Let everybody know. However, in order to avert industrial crises, they must settle the outstanding salaries and other entitlements. They should do this to redeem their images. They must clear the salaries.”
A fiscal transparency analyst, Victor Agi, kicked against the huge amount provided to ex-political officeholders as retirement benefits.
“What we are doing is, we are deliberately plunging our country into a coma. A time will come and we are close to it when all we are generating as internally generated revenue will just be enough salaries and pensions, and only take care of political officeholders without any infrastructural development. We must condemn in strong terms the spending of the little resources we have to better the lives of politicians at the detriment of the states.”
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