Nigerian political leaders have continued to prove that they are far and above the ordinary people that they are supposed to lead.
The ruler proceeded to pluck off the feathers from the chicken till it became bare and with blood dripping all over the chicken’s skin, the ruler then began dropping the corn and even in its state, the chicken started picking it up and following the ruler who kept dropping the corn one seed at a time.
He then told his council that the poor citizens are like the chicken and that even after stripping them of every dignity, they would always follow you as long as you can give them crumbs from your table.
This story best describes Nigerian political office holders who, after raping the citizens and depriving them of every comfort while in power, they will still end up living in affluence to the detriment of the masses.
A few days ago, news broke that 21 states out of the 36 in the country have so far spent N37.4 Billion on pensions for 47 ex-governors, exerting more pressure on the scarce resources of the states.
According to the reports, the monies were pension payments and other entitlements in pension payments and provision of houses, staff, and vehicles replaceable between three and four years.
It was gathered that Bauchi State topped the pension payouts followed by Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Lagos States with former governors drawing N23.18 billion, N2.795 billion, N2.043 billion and N1.606 billion respectively over four years.
Apart from the stupendous amounts paid to these ex-governors and their deputies, there are also monetized benefits that include personnel, vehicles, houses and other allowances.
The payments are in many cases, besides provisions for medical expenses for the former chief executives which run into hundreds of millions for the former chief executive.
The pension payments and other entitlements drawn by the governors are irrespective of the prescription of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) providing 300 percent severance for the governors as stated in the Certain Political Office Holders and Judicial Officers Remuneration Act.
Under the act, former governors are like lawmakers entitled to 300% of their basic salary of N2, 223,705 amounting to N6,671,115 as severance pay. For some ex-governors, most of the provisions stipulate the provision of vehicles renewable every three to four years, accommodation at the state capital and sometimes in Abuja; 30-day-paid holiday outside the country and free medical treatment for the former governors and their immediate family members.
Take for instance in Kwara State, where the present Senate President, Bukola Saraki was a two-term governor. This is what the pension law says:
‘A former governor shall be entitled to two cars and a security car, replaceable every three years, a well-furnished 5-bedroom duplex, furniture allowance of 300 per cent of his salary, five personal staff, three DSS operatives, free medical care for the governor and the deputy, 30 per cent of salary for car maintenance, 20 percent for utility, 10 percent for entertainment, 10 percent for house maintenance.’
And when he is no more in the Senate, he will surely draw his pension from the National Assembly as well.
In all of these cases, the pension laws have provided a leeway for ex-governors and their deputies, family members and cronies to continue being maintained from the state coffers years after leaving power.
Is this lawful? Yes. Is this constitutional? Yes. But is it morally right? Is it right that states who cannot pay their workers the N18,000 monthly stipend for months should waste so much money for their former governors, some of whom have gone on to become Senators and are still drawing outlandish salaries and allowances?
We all see, read and hear of the way pensioners are treated in the country they served with their blood and sweat. Many pensioners are owed for years without being paid and some of them have died while waiting for their money but a man who begged to be voted into power serves for four or eight years, looting the state blind and at the end of the tenure, still gets so much from the state they helped in impoverishing.
Does it make any sense that former governors are still being taken care of by the states when the real pensioners who put in half of their lives in the service of the nation are left at the mercy of the vagaries of life?
No, it is nothing but sheer wickedness, greed, avarice and narcissism. No man who has a love for his people would go with such knowing that he is not only cheating on the people but eating the bread of sorrow.
Do they ever think of the poor teacher, who retires at the age of 65 and cannot get his gratuity and pension as at when due? Do they bother about the poor masses that roam the streets looking for what to hold body and soul together? No, this is far from their egotistic and conceited selves.