The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to publicly instruct former governors who are now serving as ministers in his administration to stop collecting life pensions, exotic cars and other allowances from their states.
SERAP urged him to “instruct the former governors to immediately return any pension and allowances that they may have collected since leaving office to the public treasury.”
This was made known in a statement on Sunday signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
The former governors who are now ministers in the Tinubu administration include Badaru Abubakar; Nyesom Wike; Bello Matawalle; Adegboyega Oyetola; and David Umahi. Others are: Simon Lalong; Atiku Bagudu; and Ibrahim Geidam.
In the letter dated 19 August 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The appointment of former governors who collect life pensions while serving as ministers is implicitly forbidden by the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international legal obligations.”
SERAP said, “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.”
The letter further read, “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 7 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.”
“Stopping the former governors from collecting double emoluments would be entirely consistent with the proper exercise of your constitutional power to appoint ministers.”
“Stopping the former governors from collecting life pensions would ensure that the country’s wealth and resources are used for the common good and benefit of the socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians rather than to satisfy the opulent lifestyle of a few politicians.”
“Instructing the former governors now serving as ministers in your government to stop collecting life pensions from their states would also improve public confidence in the integrity and honesty of your government.”
“Constitutional oath of office requires public officials to abstain from all improper acts, including collecting life pensions, that are inconsistent with the public trust and the overall objectives of the Constitution. A false oath lacks truth and justice. The oath statements require the oath takers to commit to uphold and defend the Constitution.”
“According to our information, the following former governors are now ministers in your administration: Badaru Abubakar (former governor of Jigawa State and Minister of Defence); and Nyesom Wike (former governor of River State and FCT Minister).”
“Others include: Bello Matawalle (former governor of Zamfara State and Minister of State for Defence); Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola (former governor of Osun State and Minister of Transportation); and David Umahi (Minister of Works).”
“Others are Simon Bako Lalong (former governor of Plateau State and Minister of Labour and Employment); Atiku Bagudu (former governor of Kebbi State and Minister of Budget and Economic Planning); Ibrahim Geidam (former governor of Yole State and Minister of Police of Affairs.”
“The states currently implementing life pensions for former governors reportedly include Jigawa, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Yobe, and Rivers. Many of these states owe workers’ salaries and remain the poorest in the country.”
“Several of the pension laws in these states include provisions for six cars every three years, a house in Lagos worth N750 million, and another in Abuja worth N1 billion, unrestricted access to medical attention, and pensionable cooks, stewards, and gardeners.”
“Other provisions 100 per cent annual salaries of the incumbent governor, security operatives and police officers permanently assigned to former governors.”
“SERAP notes that in your inaugural speech as president you promised that your administration will be guided by ‘the principle of the rule of law, a shared sense of fairness and equity’, and that ‘Nigeria will be impartially governed according to the constitution.’”
“These commitments are consistent with your constitutional duties under sections 5, 130 and 147, and oath of office, under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).”
“By the combined reading of these provisions, your government has a legal obligation to appoint as ministers former governors whose conduct is entirely consistent and compatible with constitutional and international legal requirements.”
“These constitutional provisions also require you to instruct the former governors to stop collecting life pensions and to return any pensions collected to the public treasury.”
“The country’s international legal obligations especially under the UN Convention against Corruption also impose a legal commitment on public officials to discharge a public duty truthfully and faithfully.”
“Life pensions for former governors serving as ministers are entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.”
“The convention specifically in paragraph 1 of article 8 requires you and your government to promote integrity, honesty and responsibility in the management of public resources.”
“Furthermore, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo in a judgment dated 26 November, 2019 also indicated that double emoluments for former governors are unacceptable, unconstitutional and illegal. Indeed, former governors collecting life pensions while serving as ministers would clearly amount to taking advantage of entrusted public positions.”
“‘Public function’ means activities in the public interest, not against it. The alleged collection of life pensions by former governors now serving as ministers amount to private self-interest or self-dealing. It is also detrimental to the public interest.”
President is not a magician, says Remi Tinubu
The first lady, Oluremi Tinubu, says her husband, President Bola Tinubu, would not wave a magic wand and solve all of the country’s problems in a flash.
The first lady said this on Sunday during an inter-denominational church service to commemorate Nigeria’s Independence Day.
She said her husband inherited the current challenges in the country, adding that the president is determined to fix them rather than blame past leaders.
“All we inherited are things that had happened many years ago. We are not here to put blame on any administration but to fix what has been damaged,” she said.
“My husband is not a magician. He is going to work and I believe and hope that we will have peace in this country. The best is yet to come to us.
“Good governance can only be impactful if the people follow the example of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who embodied the fruit of the spirit, including love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance and forgiveness.
“A Nigeria of abundance has begun, and to be part of the greatness that God has started in the nation, Nigerians must look beyond their current realities and embrace hope anew.”
Also speaking at the event, George Akume, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), urged Nigerians to remain patient, adding that measures are being put in place to provide solutions to the problems bedevilling the country.
“Solutions to Nigeria’s complex problems can never be as instant as expected. It will take some time, but measures are already being put in place to address them,” Akume said.
Lagos to clampdown on illegal dredging operation, reads riot act
Determined to end illegal dredging activities in the state, the Lagos State government has vowed to stop all illegal dredging operations and flush out those operating without a government’s permit in the dredging sector from the state.
The Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Dayo Bush-Alebiosu disclosed this during a meeting with the members of the executive council of the Dredgers’ Association of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter.
The meeting was called to seek the cooperation of the association in enforcing guidelines regulating dredging activities and to declare Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration’s zero tolerance for illegal dredging operations in the state.
According to the Commissioner, though the meeting is a familiarization forum to interact with members of the association and get first-hand information on how dredging activities could be improved upon with the view to maintaining the state’s waterfronts and prevent environmental degradation.
While soliciting their support in sanitizing dredging activities in the state, Bush-Alebiosu disclosed that the state would not condone the spate of illegal dredging activities being carried out in every nooks and crannies of the state.
Bush-Alebiosu also expressed the readiness of government officials to begin enforcement activities soon and that anybody caught violating dredging laws and regulations of the state would be prosecuted.
He therefore urged them to obtain all necessary permits and regularize their operations immediately.
He assured them of the government’s readiness to stand by the association in carrying out their lawful activities and also support them in all they do to ensure good waterfronts in Lagos State.
UN appeals to Lagos to allocate certain percentage of contracts to women-owned businesses
In his remarks, Mr Kehinde Gbajumo, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry expressed his delight that the state executive members of the association were present at the meeting, saying this would go a long way in conveying the views of the state government to their members.
Gbajumo noted that dredging activities in the state are “no longer business as usual,” adding that the ministry is now all out to enforce the laws regulating dredging activities, he also enjoined them to comply with the guidelines.
In his response, the President of the Dredgers Association of Nigeria, Mr Bature Akpomejero pledged their support and cooperation to the state government in getting rid of illegal dredgers in the state.
He solicited the support of the ministry for proper regularization of dredging activities to curb the activities of illegal dredgers and their impact on the environment.
Akpomejero also urged the ministry to look into the issue of overloading of trucks by dredgers and those moving wet sand on the roads, which cause a lot of damage to our roads.
The secretary general of the association, Richard Ntan, also lent his voice; assuring the ministry of maximum cooperation and collaboration of the association, noting that they are ready to cooperate with the government.
Ntan called for more such meetings with the ministry to be able to iron out grey areas affecting their operations while fashioning out areas of mutual benefit between dredgers and the state government.
The dredging operation terms and conditions were later distributed to the members of the association to further enlighten them on their obligations to the state.
Nigeria@63: God will heal our land – Pastor Adeboye
Pastor Enoch Adeboye has prayed to God to heal Nigeria, asking citizens to also pray for the betterment of the nation.
The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) said this on Sunday during the church’s October Thanksgiving Service and Nigeria’s 63rd Independent Day celebration.
Pastor Adeboye spoke on the topic ‘Freedom Indeed’ during the service.
“I pray in the name that is above every other name that God will heal our nation,” the preacher said.
“Independence is talking about freedom, that is why we would be talking about freedom indeed. You may be enjoying independence from the colonial master and still be a slave to sickness, poverty, terror, and forces of darkness,” he added.
“I am wishing you a very good celebration but more than anything else, I wish all of you who are in Christ freedom and freedom indeed.”
In many churches across the nation, the Christians marked Independence Day with praises and prayers for the country.
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