…As Lagos Moves to Repeal 2007 Pension Law to Reduce Cost of Governance Former Lagos State Governors and their deputies will lose their jumbo pensions as the State is set to repeal the Payment of Pension Law of 2007, which provides the payment of juicy allowances and pensions to the former helmsmen.. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
…As Lagos Moves to Repeal 2007 Pension Law to Reduce Cost of Governance
Former Lagos State Governors and their deputies will lose their jumbo pensions as the State is set to repeal the Payment of Pension Law of 2007, which provides the payment of juicy allowances and pensions to the former helmsmen.. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu who revealed this on Tuesday, at the House of Assembly, where he unveiled a 2021 budget proposal of N1,155 trillion, said that it is meant to reduce the cost of governance.
Those to be affected by the repeal of this law include former Governors, Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was at the helm from 1999 to 2007, Mr Babatunde Fashola who was in charge from 2007 to 2015 and Mr Akinwunmi Ambode who governed the state from 2015 to 2019. The three Governors had a total of six deputies with Tinubu having three deputies in his eight year reign.
Many have been critical of Nigerian Governors who they accuse of living large and drawing fat allowances in and out of office
In spite of the economic crisis, the low government revenue coupled with rising debt profile, many states have continued to pamper and enrich ex-Governors.
To maintain the lifestyle, the ex Governors and their deputies get posh houses, expensive vehicles, paid vacation, medical insurance, and protective services.
According to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), at least 22 states have passed laws allowing payment of life pensions to former Governors and other ex-public officials.
They are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Imo, Lagos, Niger, Osun, Oyo, Rivers, Yobe, and Zamfara. But Zamfara state which repealed the law a year ago became the first state to stop payment of allowances and pensions to ex-Governors.
SERAP has been a strong advocate for an end to the huge remittances.
In March, the federal government asked the body to send a list of former Governors and Ministers that have received and/or receiving pensions.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami said the request was to ensure compliance with a court judgment on a suit by the rights group.
The AGF’s letter with ref: MJ/LIT/ABJ/CMC/661/793 was signed by Mrs Anne C. Akwiwu, director of Civil Litigation and Public Law Department in the ministry.
Lagos was the first state to implement the pension law signed in 2007 by then Governor Tinubu weeks before he completed his two-term tenure.
Tinubu, a former Senator, is the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party under which Governor Sanwo-Olu and President Muhammadu Buhari were elected.
The Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law No 11 Official Gazette of 2007 states that former Governors are entitled to a house each in preferred locations in Lagos and Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Section 2 reads: “One residential house each for the governor and the deputy governor at any location of their choice in Lagos State and one residential house in the Federal Capital Territory for the governor on two consecutive terms.”
The law provides for six new cars every three years, 100 per cent of the basic salary of the incumbent Governor (N7.7million per annum), and free health care for the beneficiary and family members.
Former Governors will be entitled to furniture allowance – 300 percent of annual basic salary (N23.3million); house maintenance allowance – 10 percent of annual basic salary (N778,296); utility allowance – 20 percent of annual basic salary (N1.5million), and car maintenance allowance – 30 percent of the annual basic salary (N2.3million).
There is also an entertainment allowance, 10 percent of the annual basic salary (N778,296); and a personal assistant who will earn 25 percent of the Governor’s annual basic salary (N1.9million).
A former Governor is also entitled to eight policemen and two Department of State Services (DSS) operatives for life.
The Zamfara State House of Assembly became the first state to abolish the law that allows the payment of pension and other allowances for former governors and their deputies when it repealed it a year ago..
The move came days after a former Governor, Mr Abdul’aziz Yari, in a leaked letter to the state government, requested his N10 million ‘monthly upkeep’, which he said had not been paid for some months.
Presenting the bill before the Assembly, the House Leader, Hon Faruk Dosara, (PDP Maradun), urged his colleagues to consider the ‘complete repeal’ of the law, “which provides the jamboree payment for the former political leaders of the state at the detriment of the retired civil servants who have not been paid their entitlements over the years.”
According to the lawmaker, these categories of past leaders “are collecting over N700 million annually,” which he said the present economy cannot accommodate.
Sanwo Olu who drew loud applause as he broke the news, said the “Budget of Rekindling Hope” will see the government investing heavily in the development of human capital, with special focus on youth employment and provision of social safety for young people. The focus will be raising human capital, creating jobs and strengthening security for businesses to flourish.
According to the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed his administration’s move to keep the cost of governance low in the face of dwindling revenues and general inflation occasioned by multiple factors, announcing the repeal of the State’s Payment of Pension Law of 2007, which provides payment of pension and entitlements to former Governors and their deputies.
He quoted the Governor as saying he would be sending an Executive Bill to the Assembly for the repeal of the Pension Law, noting that public service would now be predicated on selflessness in the State.
Sanwo-Olu “In light of keeping the costs of governance low, we will be sending a draft executive bill to the House of Assembly imminently for the repeal of the Payment of Pension Law 2007(Public Office Holder), which provides for payment of pension and other entitlements to former Governors and their Deputies. It is our firm belief that with dwindling revenues and inflationary growth rates, that we need to come up with innovative ways of keeping the costs of governance at a minimum, while engendering a spirit of selflessness in public service.”
The budget expenditure is for the restoration of economic balance as the State continues to navigate its way out of the negative impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the destruction of public assets, following the EndSARS protest hijack.
The budget, the Governor said, will be funded from a projected Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) of N962 billion. The N192.495 billion deficit will be financed through bond issuance, internal and external loans.
About N704 billion, representing 61 per cent of the total budget, is earmarked for capital expenditure in the proposed 2021spending: an estimate of N451.75 billion, representing 39 per cent, will go for recurrent expenditure, which includes personnel cost and other staff-related expenses.
Sanwo-Olu said the budget was designed to improve the state’s economic conditions and create the social safety needed for the youth and all hardworking residents to flourish. He said the Government would leverage its developmental efforts and focus on sectors with job-creating potential, such as agriculture, construction, technology and security.
He said: “The year 2021 is one of Rekindled Hope, in accordance with recent events of global and national proportions, especially the coronavirus pandemic, the EndSARS protests, the general feeling of disenchantment in the polity and the socio-economic yearnings of Lagosians for good governance. This budget reflects our desire to rebuild the trust of the people in this Government, even as we commit significant human and financial resources to the rebuilding of Lagos while doing all we can to move on from the destruction and vandalism recently witnessed in the State, barely three weeks ago.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and EndSARS protests have only heightened the need to urgently implement various programmes under the T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda. The 2021 budget will, among other things, provide for youth employment, security, and youth engagement and social works. We are set to improve the economic conditions and social safety needed for our youth to flourish. We are committing resources to sectors that need to grow for our people to become self-reliant and economically empowered. In Agricultural sector, our food security plan has a cumulative budget of N22.21billion while we are committing a cumulative budget of N311.43billion to provide infrastructure.”
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the proposed budget would support entrepreneurship and expand the opportunity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to facilitate socio-economic advancement. He pledged that his administration would continue to support entrepreneurs in the State through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF). Besides, it will also strengthen technical and financial support for beneficiaries to generate employment that will stimulate economic prosperity.
The Governor said there would be increment in its financial commitment to youth mentoring, mental health support, and substance abuse rehabilitation. This project, he said, would be driven through the Office of the Civic Engagement, and Ministry of Youth and Social Development.
He said: “As we work on reviving the growth of our economy, we must commit resources to our state-wide security architecture, especially in the areas of intelligence gathering and the motivation of all
security personnel in the Neighbourhood Watch.
“We will be increasing the size of the Neighbourhood Watch personnel across the State and ensure their training, including community engagement, de-escalation techniques, and proactive information gathering within communities. We believe that as the population of Lagos State increases and becomes more sophisticated, so should the training of our security personnel to cope with emerging challenges.”
Despite the slowdown of activities occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanwo-Olu said this year’s budget had performed at 77 per cent. A performance benchmark of 86 per cent was projected by the end of last quarter.
Lagos, the Governor said, trained 9,000 teachers in modern teaching techniques to boost learning outcomes and provided complementary textbooks and other ancillary teaching aids for over 350,000 students.
Sanwo-Olu said the State Government spent N25 billion for the construction, refurbishment and equipping of our Healthcare centres across the State, in line with its health programmes. He added that the State built and rehabilitated 589 classrooms while also providing 1,568-bed hostels in secondary and primary schools.
“We have audacious governance goals, which we cannot achieve without the concerted efforts of all our people. We should not allow the events of the past few months to obliterate our consistent cycles of socio-economic progress. Let us begin to rebuild our State with determination and optimism, even as we advance the interests of the electorate and restore their confidence in this Government,” the Governor said.
The audience of lawmakers, party chiefs, Executive Council members and other guests clapped as Sanwo-Olu spoke.
The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, praised the Governor’s courage in the face of the recent challenges that faced the State, pledging the readiness of the legislature to work with the executive arm to rebuild the State.
He promised speedy passage of the budget, assuring the public that the Assembly would properly vet the details in line with its mandate.
He said: “We have all listened with attention how the wealth of the State will be utilised for our common good in Year 2021. The responsibility is now on the members of the Assembly to meticulously perform their constitutional duty. I reiterate our commitment as responsive assembly in working together with the Executive to bring succour to all individuals affected in the aftermath of the EndSARS protests.”