Femi Falani, (SAN)
Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and human right activist, Mr. Femi Falana has praised the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for stopping the collection of pension as a serving senator, with a call on other former governors in the National Assembly and those who are ministers to emulate Saraki.
He also called the Lagos State House of Assembly to halt moves by it to extend the largesse to principal officers of the House.
In a statement Falana commended Saraki for demonstrating leadership by example with respect to the illegal collection of the former governors’ pension.
Falana said the Senate President should use his position to prevail on the 20 other Senators who are former governors and deputy-governors to stop further collection of pension from their state governments since they are currently receiving salaries and allowances from t National Assembly.
He said Saraki announced last week that he had stopped collecting pension as a former governor of Kwara state following the protest by the Socio-Economic and Accountability Project (SERAP).
Falana said: “According to the Senate lPresident, the moment his attention was drawn to the allegation of the payment of double salaries he wrote to the Kwara state government to stop the payment of his pension.
“In like manner, three serving ministers in Buhari’s administration who are former governors have disclosed that they are not being paid pension from any state government.
“Other ministers and legislators who are former governors and deputy governors should speak out so that Nigerians can know the public officers who are involved in the illegal collection of pension from state governments and salaries from the federal government at the same time.’’
In contributing to the debate on double payment of salaries by some ex-governors, Falani quoted Saraki as saying that “morally, if you have got another job, you should give it up until when you are truly a pensioner’’.
Falani, however, advised Saraki to refund what he had collected so far since he became senator in June 2007.
He also advised the senate president to also relinquish the house bought for him in Abuja by the Kwara state government since he is said to receive housing allowance as President of the Senate.
Saraki’s call on the houses of assembly to amend the laws to stop the payment of pension to ex-governors who are receiving salaries from the Federal Government either as senators or ministers, he said, has not addressed the immorality and illegality of the payment.
“In fact, the popular demand of the Nigerian people is that the scandalous pension laws be repealed.
“There is no legal or moral basis for paying the salaries of a sitting governor to former governors and then provide them with vehicles and two houses, one in the state capital and another one in the federal capital territory.
“More so, that majority of the states are owing workers arrears of salaries.’’
He advised the members of the Lagos state House of Assembly to stop the plan to amend the Ex-Governors’ Pension Law with a view to extending the largesse to the principal officers.
“The legislators should jettison the dangerous plan.
“Since majority of the legislators claim to be Awoists it is pertinent to remind them that while he was the Premier of the Western region the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo lived in his personal house at Okebola Ibadan.
“The tradition of personal sacrifice by political leaders in Nigeria continued up to the second republic. Hence, Alhaji Lateef Jakande lived in his Ilupeju residence and rode his private car while he was Governor of Lagos state for four years.
“ What then is the justification for buying two houses for former governors in the same state?’’(NAN)