Emulate Akpabio and Reverse Obnoxious Kwara Pension Law, PDP Tells Saraki
The Kwara State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the erstwhile Governor of Kwara state and senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Sen. Bukola Saraki, to take a cue from Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa-Ibom State and reverse the obnoxious, self-serving and insensitive Kwara pension laws that he (Saraki) orchestrated while in office and has continued to enjoy for the past three years, notwistanding that the state is gradually going bankrupt to the extent of going aborrowing.
Governor Akpabio has come under heavy criticism since the State House of Assembly amended the Akwa-Ibom State pension law which gives all former governors of the state an entitlement of N200 million in pension among other benefits upon leaving office.
The nationwide criticism forced the governor to seek for the amendment pension law to remove the ceiling placed on the entitlement granted to former Chief Executives of the state.
In a statement signed by its Public Relations Officer, Chief Rex Olawole, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said the rescission of the controversial pension laws by Governor Akpabio is yet a demonstration that he is a leader that respects overwhelming public opinion and the larger interest of the Akwa Ibom citizens.
The party asked Sen. Bukola Saraki, to take a cue from Governor Akpabio and ask the Kwara State House of Assembly to commence immediate legislative process aimed at reversing the law.
The statement reads in part:
The PDP recalls that Sen. Saraki, in the twilight of his eight years of uneventful administration of Kwara state, got himself a mouthwatering life pension package, which is similar in content and substance to that of Akwa Ibom state. In what has become a bad precedent for other rapacious state governors, Saraki receives a monthly pension benefit equivalent to his monthly salary when he held sway as a governor. Others include, a state-of-the-art residential house in Ilorin, an annual vacation of 30 days outside Nigeria with 30 days estacodes, free medical treatment for him and all the members of his families in any part of the world, three cars for the governor and in addition one pilot and two backup cars to be replaced every three years en bloc, furniture allowance payable every two years en bloc, two cooks, steward, gardener and other domestic staff whose salaries shall be pensionable, two SSS details, eight policemen (one each for house and personal security).
But despite stringent public outrage from Kwara elders, pensioners, Nigerian Bar Association and even his late father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, Mr. Saraki, in cohort with an equally insensitive legislative assembly, hurried the passage of what is now known as the Kwara State Pension for Governor and Deputy Governor Law, No 12, 2010.
Predictably, the uninterrupted payment of the pension benefits to Saraki and Lafiagi has started to take its toll on the lean Kwara purse, with the effect that the Kwara State Government has for over a year now, being unable to pay salaries of Kwara civil servants and has had to seek for a whopping N23billion loan from the capital market to cover for the shortfall. This is why the Kwara’s case is worst than Akwa Ibom’s; whereas, Kwara received a paltry N49billion in federal allocation in 2013, Akwa Ibom received well over N200billion in the same year!
In the same vein, Sen. Saraki is urged to give up ownership of the multi-billion Naira mansion lying and being at Museum Road, GRA, Ilorin built for him from the collective patrimony of Kwarans in the name of pension. The mansion, though an architectural masterpiece, has ironically become a sight of sorrow, grief and regret for hordes of suffering Kwara pensioners that have had their pension payment suspended for years due to an alleged paucity of funds. Mr. Saraki should in the spirit of his new found progressive mantra, auction the building and use part of its proceeds to pay over 9000 Kwara pensions who challenged the government’s attempt to slash their meager pension benefits by 50%, and got judgment in both the trial and appellate courts but have had their fate hanging in the balance due to the appeal filed against this judgment by the Kwara State Government.
Whereas, 9,030 pensioners who worked for 35 years each have been battling for about seven years to recover N1.68billion owed them by Mr. Saraki and his predecessor, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, a careful calculation of what Mr. Saraki has received both in cash and kind from the sweat of the poor people of Kwara state, has revealed a pension benefit that has run into over N3billions in the last three years, in addition to millions of Naira he draws monthly as a Senator representing the same state!
It is therefore not surprising that the fowl-mounted Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, and even at the national have, suddenly lost their voices over their leader’s continued rape of the state in the name of a pension benefit.
Chief Rex K. Olawoye
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