By Abdullah Abdulganiy
It was with a feeling of joy that I received the news that Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq had announced his intention to initiate the process that would lead to the repeal of the pension law awarding jumbo packages to former governors and former deputy governors. This is a cause I am glad to have actively fought for. And it appears it’s coming true.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu opened the floor when he declared on the floor of the State Assembly that he would send a bill to revoke the pension law for ex-governors and their deputies. The news was greeted by excitement and commendations both on the streets of Lagos, the commercial nerve of Nigeria and across the country.
Days later came Governor AbdulRazaq of Kwara State holding the bull by the horns, defying all odds to also tow same path as the BOS of Lagos. Hurray here, hurray there. People were excited and glad with the declaration. It’s long overdue.
In his speech, AbdulRazaq just like Sanwo-Olu based his action on the need to reduce governance cost, adding that his firm view is that those humongous funds used to bankroll the pension packages for ex-governors and ex-deputy governors are better funnelled into tackling the question of poverty and youth empowerment. Apt!
Kwarans have long been taken for a ride with this obnoxious law. It was passed under the administration of Kwara’s most greedy governor, Bukola Saraki. The law says ex-governors and their deputies “shall be entitled to a pension for life at the rate equivalent to the annual basic salary of the incumbent and other benefits as provided by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission.”
It continues: “The pension shall include: furnished 5-bedroom duplex, 300% for furniture replaceable every four years; free medical treatment for Governor and Deputy Governor and their immediate families; car maintenance; drivers (pensionable); house maintenance; and two cars for the Governor in addition to one pilot car to be replaced every three years.”
Saraki, who poses as a ‘lover of the masses’, was the greatest beneficiary of this obnoxious law, alongside Shaaba Lafiagi, Kwara North’s former Senator-turn-outcast. He built mansions and skyscrapers from the public-sponsored funds, according to his own self confession. What shocked most observers was that Saraki who was sent packing by Kwarans was also getting the pension packages when he sat as a Senator of the Federal Republic for four years; and later Senate President.
Imagine the trillions of naira accrued to a single man where thousands of Kwarans were and still are languishing in abject want. So, why won’t people like Saraki not be richer than the state? How he wants to account for all these atrocities against humanity before God should be his major concern. He and his co-travellers long took Kwara for a ride. But our people are now exposed. Not again. Never! He shall continue to be disgraced.
The news also drew some level of debate when some partisan and semi-educated lot came with a poorly scripted defense (or is it movie?). They said immediate past governor AbdelFatah Ahmed had repealed the law Governor AbdulRazaq seeks to repeal. This is an expensive joke of the century. It speaks to poor understanding of the English language, not paying attention to details. It’s just too moronic a defense! One of Saraki’s aides was even surefooted on ignorance and mischief. Sadly!
In the final analysis, I give kudos to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for this audacious move. It’s a step in the right direction. It is a further confirmation of the fact that he’s here to serve. The Assembly should fast-track the process and not sleep on it (as they say in street lingo). However, I want to advise that the governor identify other leakages that could bring reduction to cost of governance. It’s very important. Kwara must rise! Similarly, the FOI bill and minimum wage payment are another matters the governor must bear in mind. Governance is about the will of the people.