By Femi Falana
Since the advent of plutocracy in the guise of democracy in 1999, the ruling power elites in Nigeria have flagrantly thrown caution to the wind in their actions,policy measures, and governance metrics. They project and protect their selfish and ignoble interests at the expense of the masses who they are presumptuously representing. These rulers, through their kleptomania, have left the people in abject poverty,penury, unemployment, and hunger.
Sadly, in the face of the obvious multidimensional poverty and hopelessness in the land, a dangerous, unconscionable, untenable, and abhorrent trend emerged. Virtually all the governors whose tenure elapsed turned the legislative and executive branch to their retirement or rehabilitation homes. It’s inconceivable that despite the humongous pension and gratuity paid them in their states, they, without any compunctions, draw salaries and allowances from the National Assembly and the executive branch.
Citing two subsisting Court rulings,first in 2019 and second in 2016, Femi Falana, a Senior advocate of Nigeria, who is also the chairman of Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond had unreservedly condemned the payment of pension to ex-governors, especially those elected as legislators or engaged as ministers after their tenure. In a recent statement the human rights lawyer called on the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio and other former governors in the executive and legislature arm to imitate Senators Daniel and Dankwambo and stop collecting the illicit pensions without further delay.
According to Falana, in a landmark judgment delivered on November 26 2019, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo (now retired) declared the payment of the pension illegal and unconstitutional
“Consequently, the Court ordered the Accountant-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to recover the life pensions collected by former governors serving as Senators and Ministers.
“Similarly, in suit NO: NICN/JOS/26/2016 (Alhaji Garba Umar v Taraba State Government) Justice K. I. Amadi of the National Industrial Court declared as null and void the payment of pension and gratuity to former governors and deputy governors. The pension was provided for in Taraba State Governor and Deputy Governor’s Pension Law 2015,” the statement read in part.
He applauded the sterling qualities and exemplary character of Senators Gbenga Daniel and Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo for complying with the court order by requesting their state governments to discontinue paying them the obnoxious and imprudent pensions when about 20 other former governors in the executive and legislative branches of government were still unabashedly receiving theirs.
These two exceptional patriots, Gbenga Daniel, representing Ogun East Senatorial District and Ibrahim Dankwambo representing Gombe North, served as governors between 2003 – 2021 & 2011 – 2019 in Ogun and Gombe States respectively.