The Zamfara example
Until the erstwhile Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul Aziz Yari Abubakar, cried out over his predicament following the non-payment of his N10million monthly allowance, no one suspected that such insensitive pay-out goes on in a state as poor as Zamfara.
We have Yari to thank for the revelation, and we have the State House of Assembly even more to salute for their sense of outrage and their courage to promptly repeal the law that gave rise to the scandal. Governor Bello Matawalle was not keen on authorizing the state accountant-general to pay the humongous allowance. As if that was not mind-blowing enough, Yari says he is entitled to a pension equivalent to the salary he was receiving as governor. This means he is to be paid the salary of a governor for life— even when he is out of office. Apparently the House was not in the picture of what former governors were expected to be drawing from the public till at the end of their tenure.
The law which allotted Yari such payment was signed close to the end of his tenure—on 23 March, 2019.Here is the unconscionable drawing as revealed by Yari himself in a letter dated 17 October, 2019:“The law provides among other entitlements of the former governor, a monthly upkeep allowance of Ten Million Naira (N10, 000,000) only, and a pension equivalent to the salary he was receiving while in office.” The amount is stated in bold letters, presumably to help Governor Matawalle see the figure without needing his pair of reading glasses to see the figure clearly.
We do not know what allowances and pension some other governors have allotted to themselves. Certainly, Yari cannot be alone in this callous payout. I do hope that our media, print and electronics will not rest until they have brought out the figures state by state.
The Zamfara House leader was right in pressing for the repeal of the law that provides “jumbo pay for the former political leaders of the state at the detriment of the retired civil servants who have not been paid their entitlements for years.” He went on to state that a certain category of past leaders collects more than N700million annually which the state of the economy cannot accommodate.
From this shame of a nation, it is getting increasingly clear while the struggle to get to government houses across the country is so acrimonious and violent, with many a governor wading through slaughter to the throne as William Shakespeare was wont to put it centuries past.The battle should not be left in the hands of the legislators alone; the press should take it over until there is a review throughout the country. A review may help to reduce the tension and violence which have become the accompaniment of our political contestation.
I have said it before that the agitation for minimum wage by Labour was misdirected. The urgent battle ought to have started from the National Assembly.The Zamfara House Leader told his colleagues that his bill was urgent, urging them to, as a matter of urgency, consider the abolishment of the law which provides jumbo pay for the former political leaders of the state. It is even more an urgent task for the legislative houses throughout the country. It was bad enough that Yari was paid for June and July.
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