PLEASE READ THIS BILL TO BE PASSED BY KWARA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ON PENSION AND GRATUITY FOR A GOVERNOR AND DEPUTY GOVERNOR WHO IS PRIVELEDGED TO RULE KWARA STATE WITHOUT BEING IMPEACHED
THIS BILL IS TO BE PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY SO THAT BUKOLA SARAKI AND HIS FATHER WILL CONTINUE TO GOVERN THE STATE EVEN AFTER LEAVING OFFICE.
SAVE KWARA STATE.
The Hon. Speaker,
Kwara State House of Assembly,
Attention: A.A. Olanipekun
RE: A BILL TO MAKE PROVISIONS FOR PENSION OF EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR AND DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF KWARA STATE AND OTHER MATTERS CONNECTED THEREWITH
The above subject matter refers.
We thank you for giving us the opportunity to make our contributions to the bill.
We have considered the proposed bill and the relevant provisions of the law. We attach to this letter our propositions and suggestions to the bill.
Please accept our highest regards.
R.O. Balogun Esq. Salman Jawondo Esq.
There is no doubt that the House is empowered to make this law by virtue of section 124(1) (4) and (5) of the constitution which provision empowers the House of Assembly of a State to make law for the provision of pension or gratuity for the Governor or Deputy Governor and other certain public officers who was not removed from office as a result of impeachment.
However, sight must not be lost of the provision of section 4(6)(7) of the constitution which provides as follows
(7)”The House of Assembly of a State shall have power to make laws for the peace order and good government of the state or any part thereof…”
The pertinent question with respect to this Bill is would this power be exercised for the “good government” of the state with the passage of this law wherein persons who have been privileged to rule the state would be living as Governors/Deputy Governors even after their tenure of office? For this will be the resultant effect of this Bill if passed its present state.
The words pension and gratuity are defined in Black’s Law Dictionary 8th edition by Bryan A. Garner
“Pension”: “A fixed sum paid regularly to a person (or to the person’s beneficiaries), especially by an employer as a retirement benefit.” Pg. 1170.
“Gratuity”: “The portion of a salvage award exceeding what the salvor would be entitled to on the basis of quantum meruit.” Pg. 198.
By section 124 (5) of the constitution this House is only empowered to make law with respect to pension OR gratuity and not both for former Governors and Deputy Governors.
The question, therefore, having regard to the contents of the Bill under consideration are the provisions therein gratuity of pension? The answer will anon be provided.
Let us examine first the position of existing law on pension for Former Governor and Deputy Governor.
There is in existence in Kwara State “Grant of Pension (Governor and Deputy Governor) Law” Cap K21 Laws of Kwara State which provides pension for former Governor and former Deputy Governor in section 3(2) as follows:
“Such pension shall be at a rate equivalent to the annual total salary of the incumbent Governor and Deputy Governor of the State.”
We submit this is a very reasonable law meant for good government of the State. The law is also all inclusive as it takes care of democratically elected Governors and Deputy Governors of the State since its creation in 1967.
The present Bill allows people who have been privileged to lead to become drains on the resources of the State and unsolicited and avoidable burden on the people.
It is noted that the Bill under consideration makes no reference to this existing law. It is therefore, suggested that the existing law be retained and put to use as the will serve the interest of the people of the State as against narrow and selfish interest of the privileged.
We support the retention and implementation of Cap K21 of Laws of Kwara State because:
The present Bill is very ambitious in its provision. The rational behind the proposal can only be selfish and self-seeking. It is the public that elects the representatives as well as the Executive. This Bill appears not to be putting the interest of the public into consideration for the following reasons:
(a) The State is finding it difficult, if it fulfils it, to make regular payment to pensioners.
(b) The civil servants are being retired prematurely on account of heavy wage Bill and on retirement their dues are not immediately respected.
(c) It is the civil servants who sustain the State that should deserve to continue earning their salaries and perquisite of office after serving 30 – 35 years of the good portion of their lives.
(d) Political office has never been pensionable and to enact this law in its present form will be a betrayal of trust to the people of Kwara State and Nigeria especially the voters who did not know and could not have imagined that they were using their “thumbprints” to invite and inflict un-quantifiable burden on themselves.
(e) The Bill does not proposed same rate for public officers who spent the better part of their life in serving the State?
The provision of the schedule is too elastic and dangerous e.g. no amount of cost of building is stated, no maximum cost is stated. It also provides that the Deputy Governor will be entitled to 100% of annual basic salary of incumbent Governor.
i. The Bill will further create high tension. At present political assassination is going on because everybody wants to occupy political office which has now become highly and recklessly lucrative. Consider the earnings of Councilor, Honourable and compare it with other workers. This Bill will only make the office of the Governor and Deputy more than do or die affairs.
ii. The Bill is going to be a heavy burden on the finances of the State treasury.
We however make the following suggestions for the amendment to Kwara State Law Cap K21
2. GOVERNOR/DEPUTY GOVERNOR CONVICTED AFTER COMPLETION OF TENURE
On the application of the law to any person, it is suggested that any person who has been elected Governor or Deputy Governor, whose tenure has expired and is tried and convicted by a competent court or tribunal for misappropriation or financial malpractices and embezzlement of public funds while he was in office should be excluded from receiving any entitlements, pensions and privileges under the law, as from the date of the conviction of such person subject to his right of appeal and the determination of the appeal. The right to pension should cease.
3. ATTAINMENT OF HIGHER OFFICE
Where a former Governor or Deputy Governor attains and successfully served as President, Vice President, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives or Deputy Speaker and successfully completes his tenure, he should not be entitled to any pension or benefit under this law. This is because such persons enjoy pension benefits under the Federal Law.
If however the House is convinced that this Bill as proposed is constitutional, legal and lawful and must be passed, we wish to make the following observations and suggestions
4. RESTRICTIVENESS OF THE LAW
The law is too restrictive by limiting its application to persons elected as Governor and Deputy as from 1999. Persons that have been elected into these offices in the past prior to 1999 should be included as the elections that brought them into office can be said to be even more credible than what has been experienced since 1999 in the current democratic dispensation. Thus, sections 1, 6 and 9 have to be amended to include the former Governors and Deputy Governor of the State who were democratically elected since the creation of the State in 1967.
5. CONTENTS OF THE BILL
5.1 Costs implications
The cost implications of the proposed salaries, allowances and benefits for the former Governors and Deputy Governors will be too much for the State to bear as the years roll by and considering the masses who are yearning for better living conditions within the State. It will mean that at a point in time the Kwara State Government will be responsible for more than one Deputy Governor and more than one Executive Governor at the same time. It may come to a time that the State will have to pay for ten past Governors and ten past Deputy Governors. At that time the state will be paying for eleven Governors and eleven Deputy Governors. It is not known where any political office holder enjoys such a right. Even if there is any, it should be discouraged. It is suggested that the past Governor or Deputy Governor should enjoy 50% of the basic salary of the incumbent Governor or Deputy Governor.
5.2 Comparing the proposed Bill with the Act already in existence at the Federal level for Former Presidents and Head of States will bring to light our point. There is the “Remuneration of Former Presidents and Heads of State (and other Ancillary matters) Act”. Cap R 6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. The Act makes provision for payment to Former Presidents and Head of States from the first Republic.
a. It provides that any amount to be paid for the former office holders should be up keep allowance.
It is therefore suggested that such amount should be made percentage of the basic salary of the incumbent Governor and Deputy Governor subject to review periodically and not made the equivalent of the annual basic salary of the incumbent Governor.
This is comparable to N350,00 per month provided for former President in section 1(a)(i) the Remuneration e.t.c. Act, Cap R6 cited above. Compare also with N250,000 per month provided for the Vice President of the whole country in section 1(b)(ii) of the Act.
b. Where the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission has made provisions for the pension or gratuity of the Governor and Deputy Governor, the public office holders should not be entitled to additional salaries under this law, as that Commission is empowered to fix the salaries and allowances of the officers under the law by section 124(1) of the 1999 constitution. There should not be any double payments. Section 1 of this Bill should therefore be amended in this line.
5.3 Allowances and Fringe Benefits. It is suggested that these should be as follows:
a. Accommodation: Residential house of the prescribed type (as suggested in the schedule hereto attached) each for the Governor and Deputy Governor at any location of their choice within Kwara State may be provided. This Residential house will be furnished just once as is provided in paragraph 7 of part 1 in the schedule of the Act referred to above for the Former President.
b. Personal Staff. In lieu of the provisions proposed in the Bill, we suggest;
(i) An officer not below the rank of a Senior Administrative Officer
(ii) A personal Secretary not below Grade Level 10 who shall be selected by the former Governor and paid by the Government.
(iii) An officer not below the rank of an Administrative Officer
(iv) A personal Secretary not below Grade Level 8 who shall be selected by the former Deputy Governor and paid by the Government.
c. On the provision of Residential House in the Federal Capital Territory for Governors on two consecutive terms. This provision should be expunged completely. This is obnoxious and an eyesore. The effect of this provision is to make an incumbent desperate to want to have another term notwithstanding the peoples’ perception and judgement of his performance. While the country is battling to institutionalize credible election in our democratic system, this provision is capable of making attainment of two consecutive terms by an incumbent more than a do or die affair. Further, Kwara State cannot afford such luxury. What is the correlation of having a house in Abuja to the citizens of Kwara State? This is obnoxious and wasteful.
d. Annual vacation:
This provision should be deleted. There should be no annual vacation allowances for a person who is no longer in office.
The number of 6 cars for the former Governor and 4 cars for the Deputy Governor is too much. Even former President and Vice President are entitled to 3 cars only replaceable every four years and not three years as proposed in this Bill.
The use of six cars by a former Governor and 4 cars for a former Deputy Governor is unreasonable, wasteful and insensitive to economic realities and the feelings of the citizens. We recommend a maximum of 3 cars for a former Governor and 2 for a former Deputy Governor. The use of a pilot and back up cars are not only anachronistic, they constitute nuisance. The use of siren is being abused in this country. It is high time we learnt to be civilized as sirens are meant for emergencies like ambulances and security patrol.
f. Furniture allowance:
There should not be any payment for furniture allowance for a former Governor or Deputy Governor. Furniture allowance should be paid to only to those in office. Once the house built for the former public office holder is furnished there must not be provision for any periodic furniture allowance.
The furniture allowance, which is put at 300% of the basic salary of the incumbent, is not only very embarrassing but also primitive. For instance, if the annual basic salary of an incumbent is N6 million, it means that the furniture allowance for the former public office holder for two years will be N18 million, that is N9 million per year for furniture. We are at a loss to fathom the rational behind this. If we may ask, as individuals and/or even as people in government, do we change the furniture in our houses or offices every two years and if we do, at what rate? It is unheard that people who have been privileged to lead will still be expecting the State to do everything for them except those things that by nature cannot be done for them or on their behalf.
The provision for medical treatment for Former Governor and Deputy Governor and their immediate families without any limitation and qualification is not only tendentious but also porous and liable to abuse as it allows for whims and caprices of the beneficiaries. Accordingly, we suggest:
i. Free medical treatment for the Governor and Deputy Governor and members of their immediate families within Nigeria.
ii. Free medical treatment for the Governor and Deputy Governor and members of their immediate families outside the Country where necessary and on the recommendation of government owned or approved tertiary medical centre or institution.
h. Security: A total of 11 security men (police & SSS) for the former Governor and 3 for the Deputy Governor are rather too many. Assuming there are up to 10 former Governors, then we will have 110 policemen/SSS for these former Governors at the expense of the State. In any event Kwara State does not have its own police and SSS and have no control over the Nigerian Police and SSS.
The retinue of security being proposed for former Governor tends to portray such former Governor as a person who is not secured among his people by virtue of the mandate he claimed to have got through them. Consequently therefore we suggest:
i. One armed policemen and one SSS detail for the Governor.
ii. One armed policemen and one SSS detail for the Deputy Governor.
6. Section 6 ought to be expunged. Any public office holder who after leaving the office is not responsible enough to manage his family and finances should not be protected from execution of court process against pension payment. Further this provision bothers on the jurisdiction of the courts to have their judgments executed.
7. Section 8 (b) ousting the court’s jurisdiction should be avoided, as nobody is above the law. Immunity is only there for the incumbent.
8. The schedule/ table should now read as follows with all the proposed amendments suggested to the body of the statute.
The public will resist this Bill. It is dangerous and it will create chaos and violence in the Community.
Let us remember that we should be careful of setting dangerous precedent.
However, the people solace lies in the legal par lace that “Parliament cannot bind its successor.”
Thank you and wishing the House fruitful and people oriented deliberations
Can this be justify any where Fi'Sabilillah.