Drama behind Saraki’s pension: Who is fooling who?

Drama behind Saraki’s pension: Who is fooling who?

By Gbenga Odunsi, Abuja

In July, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asked Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to institute legal action on behalf of Nigerian people to recover over N40 billion dubiously earned in double payments by former Nigerian state governors who are now either senators or ministers.

It rumoured that the former governors and their deputies were drawing the dubious payments based on retirement and pension laws they crafted while in office.

The organisation said Malami must, within seven days of receipt of the letter, institute the legal action. It warned that it would institute legal proceedings to compel the discharge of constitutional duty and full compliance with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations and commitments if the Attorney General fails to take action.

Saraki reacts

Saraki said he had stopped receiving pension in Kwara.

“No, I’m not collecting pension; the moment I saw that allegation, I wrote to my state to stop my pension,” he said at a NAN forum in Abuja.

“I speak for myself on that part. I’m not doing that; I am not receiving pension from my state. I think I will leave everybody to their individual decision. Morally, if you have got another job, you should give it up until when you are truly a pensioner.”

 

APC reacts

Responding to the allegations, the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) took to its Twitter handle to correct SERAP, saying that Saraki does fund several charity projects using his pension. The APC claimed, “there is nothing illegal about the pension, it absolutely lawful”.

The APC claimed Saraki used his pensions to award scholarship to students under the Abubakar Bukola Saraki Pension Scholarship Scheme, (ABSPSS).

“The Senate president, Bukola Saraki has offered scholarships to 73 first class graduates from Kwara State in the 2015/2016 academic session.

 

Another different reaction from Saraki

Saraki told newsmen that he no longer collects pension. He said: “No, I’m not collecting pension; the moment I saw that allegation, I wrote to my state to stop my pension.”

 

Consequences of the pension refund

Few days after Saraki claimed to have refunded his pensions to Kwara state government, he sacked 98 of his aides. He reportedly sacked his director of protocol, head of administration and 96 others to scale down the number of his aides.

 

Worth of Pension

According to reports from the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, Kwara’s 2010 pension law gives former governor two cars and a security car replaceable every three years, a well-furnished five-bedroom duplex, furniture allowance of 300 per cent of his salary, five personal staff, three SSS, free medical care for the governor and the deputy, 30 percent of salary for car maintenance, 20 per cent for utility, 10 percent for entertainment, 10 per cent for house maintenance.

Based on the approved ‘Remuneration Package for Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders’ prepared by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), a state governor currently earns an annual salary of N11.5 million per annum.

When the maths is done based on all the percentages in the afore-stated pension, the sum total is a huge amount of money — too much for one person to expend on a scholarship on behalf of the public.

 

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