A group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) is demanding a review of the pension law for former governors in various states. The CSOs are concerned about the significant amount of public funds, totaling over N2.4 billion per year, being spent on pension payments to seven ex-governors who are currently serving as ministers and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
The ministers benefiting from state pensions are Abubakar Badaru, Nyesom Wike, Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola, and David Umahi, among others. These ex-governors turned ministers receive an average of N300 million each year, resulting in a cumulative payment of N2.4 billion for the eight key cabinet members.
The CSOs argue that it is against the principles of good governance for ex-governors to receive pensions and allowances from their states while also drawing salaries as ministers. They highlight that several states still have active pension laws for ex-governors and their deputies, with exceptions being Zamfara, Kwara, and Imo States.
In the last four years, a total of N39 billion has been spent by 21 states to sustain the lifestyles of 47 ex-governors. Only Zamfara State has repealed its Governors Pension Act, citing the provision in the 1999 Constitution that requires a pensioner to have worked for at least 10 years.
The CSOs point out that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) law prohibits public officers from receiving emoluments from multiple public offices or engaging in private businesses after retirement. Similarly, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) already provides for the remuneration of sitting public office holders.
The CSOs highlight specific examples of ministers who are still benefiting from state pension laws. For instance, Nyesom Wike, as the former governor of Rivers State, is entitled to several benefits, including free medical care, three new cars every four years, and 100% of the yearly basic salary of the incumbent governor.
The CSOs also mention the case of Ibrahim Geidam, the Minister of Police Affairs, who continues to receive a pension for life under the Yobe State Pension Act.
The group argues that these practices are morally and ethically unacceptable, and that former governors should choose between receiving a pension or holding an active position. They call on the government to recover life pensions collected by former governors serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly, as ordered by a Federal High Court in a case brought by SERAP.
The CSOs also urge the 10th National Assembly to enact a law preventing ex-governors from receiving pensions while serving in the Federal Executive Council (FEC). They emphasize that this practice is both criminal and corrupt, as it allows individuals to earn double pay while many Nigerians are living in poverty.