Reveal and return pensions of ex-govs in Senate
Dear Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
Sir: Your constitutional oath of office, under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) requires you to publicly reject and return any pensions. Public function means activities in the public interest, not against it. The alleged collection by former governors of life pensions from their respective states amount to private self-interest. It is also detrimental to the public interest.
Nigerians expect you to act in the public interest including by ending the collection of any life pensions from your respective states and returning any such pensions that may have been collected to the treasury. Collecting life pensions as former governors while in the Senate would clearly violate constitutional provisions and amount to taking advantage of entrusted public positions.
Ending the practice of former governors in the Senate collecting life pensions from their states would improve public confidence in the integrity and honesty of the National Assembly. It would show that the Senate can focus on serving the public interest rather than looking after themselves.
We urge you to emulate former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who stopped collecting life pension as a former governor of Kwara State and described life pensions by former governors as ‘immoral’, following a request by SERAP.
We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. The country’s international legal obligations especially under the UN Convention against Corruption also impose a legal commitment on public officials including former governors in the Senate to discharge a public duty truthfully and faithfully.
Life pensions for former governors serving as senators are entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the constitutional oath of office and the object and purpose of the UN Convention against Corruption, which implicitly prohibits large severance benefits for public officials such as former governors.
The convention specifically in paragraph one of article 8 requires you to promote integrity, honesty and responsibility in the management of public resources. Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo in a judgment dated November 26, 2019 also indicated that double emoluments for former governors are unacceptable, unconstitutional and illegal.
SERAP is concerned that despite receiving in recent years trillions of naira from the federation account, several states have failed to provide access to quality education to millions of poor Nigerian children. Constitutional oath of office requires public officials including former governors in the Senate to abstain from all improper acts, including collecting life pensions that are inconsistent with the public trust and the overall objectives of the constitution.
Kolawole Oluwadare, deputy director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
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